• Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.
      Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.

Fresh faced: 2014 Storefront Challenge honors

A great storefront is a vote of confidence – in a quality business, in a block, in a community. Fresh paint, new awnings, and better lighting can give old businesses an updated look that helps draw in new customers. And a sharp new storefront can send the signal that a commercial corridor is on the rise with new investment. 

To honor that spirit of change and revival, the Community Design Collaborative and Commerce Department dole out awards in a Storefront Challenge every other year. This year 80 storefronts from Torresdale to Passyunk avenues, completed between October 2012 and September 2014, vied for top honors.

Here are this year's winners – with before and after images and more than a few honorable mentions – who were recognized at a celebration Tuesday afternoon, held as part of Design Philadelphia.

Amazing Awnings: Wellens Hosiery, 7201-03 Torresdale Avenue

    • AFTER: Wellens Hosiery, Torresdale Avenue
      AFTER: Wellens Hosiery, Torresdale Avenue
    • BEFORE: Wellens Hosiery, Torresdale Avenue
      BEFORE: Wellens Hosiery, Torresdale Avenue
    • AFTER: Hats in the Belfry, South Street
      AFTER: Hats in the Belfry, South Street
    • BEFORE: Hats in the Belfry, South Street
      BEFORE: Hats in the Belfry, South Street
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Wellens not only opened up its display windows to the street again, but it added a designer touch with awnings featuring stitching detail.

Honorable mention: Hats in the Belfry, 633 South Street

Bang for the Buck: Group Award – NKCDC/ Girard Avenue Model Block

    • AFTER: East Girard Avenue Model Block
      AFTER: East Girard Avenue Model Block
    • AFTER: Stock, Girard Avenue
      AFTER: Stock, Girard Avenue
    • BEFORE: Stock, Girard Avenue
      BEFORE: Stock, Girard Avenue
    • AFTER: Nic Nacs 4 Peanuts, Girard Avenue
      AFTER: Nic Nacs 4 Peanuts, Girard Avenue
    • BEFORE: NicNacs 4 Peanuts, Girard Avenue
      BEFORE: NicNacs 4 Peanuts, Girard Avenue
    • AFTER: Dash Delivery, Girard Avenue
      AFTER: Dash Delivery, Girard Avenue
    • BEFORE: Dash Delivery, Girard Avenue
      BEFORE: Dash Delivery, Girard Avenue
    • AFTER: Street Glitter Gallery, Girard Avenue
      AFTER: Street Glitter Gallery, Girard Avenue
    • BEFORE: Street Glitter Gallery, Girard Avenue
      BEFORE: Street Glitter Gallery, Girard Avenue
    • AFTER: Keys to the Attic, Girard Avenue
      AFTER: Keys to the Attic, Girard Avenue
    • BEFORE: Keys to the Attic, Girard Avenue
      BEFORE: Keys to the Attic, Girard Avenue
    • After: Wardrobe Boutique, Spring Garden Street
      After: Wardrobe Boutique, Spring Garden Street
    • BEFORE: Wardrobe boutique, Spring Garden Street
      BEFORE: Wardrobe boutique, Spring Garden Street
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New Kensington CDC banded businesses together on one block of East Girard Avenue for a $10,000 infusion that packed big results.

  • Keys to the Attic, 314 E. Girard Avenue
  • NicNac4Peanuts, 312 E. Girard Avenue
  • Stock, 310 E. Girard Avenue
  • Dash Delivery, 308 E. Girard Avenue
  • Street Glitter Gallery, 306 E. Girard Avenue

Honorable mention: Wardrobe Boutique, 1822 Spring Garden Street

Best DeSign (tie): Rybrew Café, 2816 West Girard Avenue and Townsend, 1623 E Passyunk Avenue

    • AFTER: Rybrew, Girard Avenue
      AFTER: Rybrew, Girard Avenue
    • BEFORE: Rybrew, Girard Avenue
      BEFORE: Rybrew, Girard Avenue
    • AFTER: Townsend, Passyunk Avenue
      AFTER: Townsend, Passyunk Avenue
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rybrew's yellow sign is simple and pops off of the brick facade, while the window tells you just what to expect inside. Tied for the honors is Townsend, a refined take on an historic storefront, is accented with an understated hanging circular sign that catches the eye thanks to its color and shape.

Corridor Catalyist: Alex Balloon, Tacony CDC  / Torresdale Avenue Corridor Manager

    • Alex Balloon, Tacony CDC Corridor Manager, on Torresdale Avenue.
      Alex Balloon, Tacony CDC Corridor Manager, on Torresdale Avenue.
    • AFTER: Athenian Diner, Torresdale Avenue
      AFTER: Athenian Diner, Torresdale Avenue
    • BEFORE: Athenian Diner, Torresdale Avenue
      BEFORE: Athenian Diner, Torresdale Avenue
    • AFTER: Anthonys Cafe Espresso, Torresdale Avenue
      AFTER: Anthonys Cafe Espresso, Torresdale Avenue
    • AFTER: Bull's Eye Darts, Torresdale Avenue
      AFTER: Bull's Eye Darts, Torresdale Avenue
    • BEFORE: Bull's Eye Darts, Torresdale Avenue
      BEFORE: Bull's Eye Darts, Torresdale Avenue
    • DeNofa's Deli after facade improvements
      DeNofa's Deli after facade improvements
    • DeNofa's Deli before renovations, 2012.
      DeNofa's Deli before renovations, 2012.
    • BEFORE: Fu Mei Mart, Torresdale Avenue
      BEFORE: Fu Mei Mart, Torresdale Avenue
    • AFTER: Fu Mei Mart, Torresdale Avenue
      AFTER: Fu Mei Mart, Torresdale Avenue
    • AFTER: New Station Pizza, Torresdale Avenue
      AFTER: New Station Pizza, Torresdale Avenue
    • BEFORE: New Station Pizza, Torresdale Avenue
      BEFORE: New Station Pizza, Torresdale Avenue
    • Wellens, May 2014
      Wellens, May 2014
    • Wellens Hosiery (before)
      Wellens Hosiery (before)
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We've followed along as corridor manager Alex Balloon has helped businesses in Tacony revamp many facades on Torresdale Avenue - including several winners of this year's Storefront Challenge. Balloon was honored for his collaborative efforts and bright ideas with the Corridor Catalyst award.

Extreme Makeover: ReAnimator Coffee Roasters, 310 W Master Street

    • AFTER: ReAnimator coffee Roasters, Master Street
      AFTER: ReAnimator coffee Roasters, Master Street
    • BEFORE: ReAnimator Coffee Roasters, Master Street
      BEFORE: ReAnimator Coffee Roasters, Master Street
    • AFTER: John Junius Taylor, Lancaster Avenue
      AFTER: John Junius Taylor, Lancaster Avenue
    • BEFORE: John Junius Taylor, Lancaster Avenue
      BEFORE: John Junius Taylor, Lancaster Avenue
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A once dead-eyed warehouse gleams with glass, revived as ReAnimator Coffee Roasters. 

Honorable mention: John Junius Taylor, 3812 Lancaster Avenue

Honor the Past: Robert Brand & Associates, 1716 Passyunk Avenue

    • AFTER: Robert Brand Associates, Passyunk Avenue
      AFTER: Robert Brand Associates, Passyunk Avenue
    • BEFORE: Robert Brand Associates, Passyunk Avenue
      BEFORE: Robert Brand Associates, Passyunk Avenue
    • AFTER: MPDesignShop, Frankford Avenue
      AFTER: MPDesignShop, Frankford Avenue
    • BEFORE: MPDesignShop, Frankford Avenue
      BEFORE: MPDesignShop, Frankford Avenue
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Robert Brand Associates honored the early 20th century pedigree of their law office on East Passyunk. It's what the Commerce Department's Jonathan Snyder called an "endangered species" of storefront, which Brand restored and and complemented with new signage and artwork within. 

Honorable mention: MPDESIGNSHOP, 2527 Frankford Avenue

KISS (Keep It Simple, Storeowner): Fu Mei Mart, 6900 Torresdale Avenue

    • AFTER: Fu Mei Mart, Torresdale Avenue
      AFTER: Fu Mei Mart, Torresdale Avenue
    • BEFORE: Fu Mei Mart, Torresdale Avenue
      BEFORE: Fu Mei Mart, Torresdale Avenue
    • AFTER: Athenian Diner, Torresdale Avenue
      AFTER: Athenian Diner, Torresdale Avenue
    • BEFORE: Athenian Diner, Torresdale Avenue
      BEFORE: Athenian Diner, Torresdale Avenue
    • AFTER: Oteri's Italian Bakery, North 5th Street
      AFTER: Oteri's Italian Bakery, North 5th Street
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FM Mart went back to basics with this Woolworths inspired palette, awnings, and signage.

Honorable mention (tie):

  • Athenian Diner, 6824 Torresdale Avenue
  • Oteri’s Italian Bakery, 4919 N. 5th Street

Paint that Pops: The Center for Art in Wood, 141 N. 3rd Street

    • AFTER: The Center for Art in Wood, North 3rd Street
      AFTER: The Center for Art in Wood, North 3rd Street
    • BEFORE: The Center for Art in Wood, North 3rd Street
      BEFORE: The Center for Art in Wood, North 3rd Street
    • AFTER: Indio's Auto Center, North 5th Street
      AFTER: Indio's Auto Center, North 5th Street
    • BEFORE: Indio's Auto Center, North 5th Street
      BEFORE: Indio's Auto Center, North 5th Street
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The Center for Art in Wood enlivened its exterior with a clever paint scheme showcasing woodworking tools.

Honorable mention: Indio’s Auto Center, 4300 N. 5th Street

Window Display: Amatullah’s Treasures, 6303 Lansdowne Ave

    • AFTER: Amatullah's Treasures, Lansdowne Avenue
      AFTER: Amatullah's Treasures, Lansdowne Avenue
    • BEFORE: Amatullah's Treasures, Lansdowne Avenue
      BEFORE: Amatullah's Treasures, Lansdowne Avenue
    • AFTER: Penn Book Center, South 34th Street
      AFTER: Penn Book Center, South 34th Street
  • Previous
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Amatullah's Treasures emphasizes creative window displays, enlivening the street and inviting in passers-by.

Honorable mention: Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th Street

Best Overall: Valley Green Bank, 1536 S. Broad Street

    • After: Valley Green Bank, South Broad Street
      After: Valley Green Bank, South Broad Street
    • BEFORE: Valley Green Bank, South Broad Street
      BEFORE: Valley Green Bank, South Broad Street
    • AFTER: Federal Donuts, North 7th Street
      AFTER: Federal Donuts, North 7th Street
    • BEFORE: Federal Donuts, N. 7th St
      BEFORE: Federal Donuts, N. 7th St
  • Previous
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Valley Green Bank was honored for its work on the facade of its South Broad Street building, revamping a bland 1960s bank with color, light and a bold sign. It's one way that the bank is also acting on its mission to provide loans for local and small businesses, and in so doing improving commercial corridors across the city. 

Honorable mention:

  • Federal Donuts, 701 N. 7th Street



Photos provided by Community Design Collaborative.

About the author

Ashley Hahn, Contributor

Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.

Contact Ashley via email or find her on twitter: @ashleyjhahn.


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