West Park Focus Areas
The West Park District Plan has three focus areas: 52nd Street Corridor, Parkside Industrial Park, and City Avenue.
Reimagining these areas as more dynamic economically, aesthetically, or functionally can have a transformational effect. These long-term visions provide inspiration and a framework as smaller improvements occur incrementally.
52nd Street Corridor
With the recent addition of the Park West Town Center (completed 2006) and the proposed City-supported housing development near Parkside Avenue, 52nd Street has shown commercial growth and the potential for additional mixed-use redevelopment. This positive momentum can be built upon through the redevelopment of a key transit node at 52nd Street and Lancaster Avenue and by improving pedestrian access and comfort along the length of 52nd Street, helping the corridor to regain its prominence in West Park and Philadelphia.
The complicated intersection of 52nd Street and Lancaster Avenue includes active mass transit as well as several underutilized or vacant parcels. Redevelopment can be used to simplify traffic conflicts, define and protect transit drop-offs, and add modest new construction of an appropriate scale. Sidewalk improvements and landscape setbacks can create a clear, safe, and gracious pedestrian promenade, making a continuous set of connections from Lancaster Avenue to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. New sidewalks and a new bus turnaround within Park West Town Center can connect the shopping center to the reemerging vitality of 52nd Street.
Parkside Industrial Park
Fronting the historic Centennial District, Parkside Avenue has numerous vacant lots, inappropriate land uses, and is a wide, fast moving roadway with few pedestrian crossings. Consistent with the scale of the East Parkside Historic District, three- to four-story mixed-use development coupled with a traffic-calming median can bring new residents and businesses to the edge of one of Philadelphia’s largest and most significant urban parks.
Until the 1970s, the area bounded by Parkside Avenue, Belmont Avenue, the AMTRAK/SEPTA rail right-of-way, and 52nd Street was occupied by a large rail yard for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The site has been redeveloped as an industrial park. In their Industrial Land Use Study, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) recommends continued development of light industrial uses at this site. By extending Leidy Avenue, a clear break can be made between industrial land uses and future mixed land uses adjacent to the park. Additionally a Leidy Avenue extension improves vehicular access without overburdening Parkside Avenue.
In 2007, the City of Philadelphia adopted an overlay for City Avenue to encourage mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development along the commercial corridor. In 2011, Lower Merion Township adopted a similar overlay for the Montgomery County side of the street. The overlay has two sections: the Regional Center, located at the eastern portion of the Avenue, calls for dense development that can accommodate high-rise buildings and disallows any development that has drive-through designs for automobiles. The Village Center, for the area between Belmont Avenue and 54th Street, accommodates modestly scaled development that is more in keeping with the low-rise residential development to the south. This Focus Area illustrates the potential new development as prescribed by the overlay.