“The geographical center of Philadelphia lies at the corner of Broad and Erie,” as a brother from the Leon Sullivan Community board so aptly reminded a small group of attendees as we departed this year’s North Broad Renaissance (NBR) Fundraiser event. The NBR has a mighty mission: To promote prosperity and opportunity for the nearly 50K souls living along the Broad Street corridor from City Hall to the Broad and Erie epicenter. As city council member Darrell Clark mentioned in his acceptance speech for his award, “Things are on the rise on North Broad.” He went on to reference the inherent benefits of the neighborhood, comparing its resources to other major thoroughfares. The area possesses educational resources, the arts and culture of the Avenue of the Arts, the commerce potential of center city; all with a historical legacy of architecture and manufacturing. There is no limit to what can happen in this essential corridor.
Mayor Kenney spoke emphatically of his commitment to NBR and its efforts to encourage responsible development in the area. The major question arises as to what responsible development looks like in practice and who will ultimately benefit? Temple University, one of the major benefactors of the NBR is now the largest single landowner on North Broad with 64 parcels. Temple’s President, Vice President and Community Liaison were all in attendance and spoke repeatedly of efforts to serve as a better community partner to a neighborhood that in some ways feels marginalized. A sincere prayer is that the consciousness of the entire stretch of land the NBR serves, maintain a vibration of peace, service to others, health and equity.
The NBR is only two years old with a bright and healthy future ahead. Their first goal was to produce the neighborhood assessment, displaying the demographic makeup of the area to inform and stimulate investors. Programming to insure quality education, access to small business capital, and more affordable housing must be addressed if NBR is to sincerely do justice to their mission and the constituents it promises to protect. Many are optimistic about the prospects and the present of North Broad as the heart blood of our great city.