Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC) and New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) have been working together to revitalize vacant lots at the "Frankford Gateway"—a stretch of Frankford Avenue near the underpass of the Lehigh Viaduct rail line in Kensington, Philadelphia.
Improving the Lehigh Viaduct underpass has been a priority of the Somerset Neighbors for Better Living (SNBL) civic association since its founding in 2012. Working with Community Design Collaborative at SNBL meetings, residents envisioned Frankford Avenue as a clean and safe neighborhood entrance that included attractive lighting, landscaping and public art. In the following years, with financial support from Conrail, Domus and Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, NKCDC stabilized vacant lots along the viaduct, planted small gardens and installed LED lights under the tracks.
This year, a full transformation of the vacant lots on Frankford was made possible by the inaugural Community Impact Project partnership with DVGBC. DVGBC and NKCDC raised over $13,000 and secured multiple in-kind gifts from the community, including a large capstone gift from Mr. Contractor Inc. Landscape architect Hans Hesselein of Apiary Studio drafted a series of designs to meet the needs of landowners, residents and local businesses.
This past summer, more than 30 volunteers built trellises, installed a drip irrigation system, and planted fruit trees, perennials, berry bushes and wildflowers. At the same time, the city's Community Life Improvement Programs (CLIP) cut weeds and removed trash on adjacent streets. And AKRF GreenUP offered to water the new plants for a year. We can't wait to see how it looks!