Grays Ferry Healthy Corridor Project
In 2017, PennPraxis worked in conjunction with ULI Philadelphia and local stakeholders to determine opportunities for making Grays Ferry Avenue, which connects South and Southwest Philadelphia, a healthy corridor. ULI Philadelphia received a national grant to study the Grays Ferry corridor from Washington Avenue to Woodland Avenue. The Healthy Corridors Phase II Grant was awarded by The Urban Land Institute (ULI)’s Global organization through funds received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Colorado Health Foundation.
The Leadership team for this project included the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences and ULI Philadelphia, and many other local agencies. The Building Healthy Corridor Phase II projects builds on four healthy corridor projects completed across the country in previous years and will leverage experts as well as assessment tools and best practices to support the define approaches for creating a holistically healthy corridor. The announcement of this grant comes on the heels of the University of Pennsylvania receiving a ULI Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Award for Excellence for the development of the Pennovation Center, its innovation campus.
Grays Ferry connects this project to looming residential and commercial development from the east. In addition, the surrounding neighborhood is among the most health-challenged parts of Philadelphia and the region with high percentages of diabetes, asthma, disabilities, and low access to healthy foods and active lifestyles. Corridor redevelopment is not a new topic. Various planning and design approaches—such as complete streets, living streets, and great streets—aim to redevelop commercial corridors to meet more of their users’ needs. The healthy corridors approach considers how the corridor contributes to the overall health of the surrounding community, including strengthening connections to city resources, and providing opportunities to be physically active. It also considers safety, housing affordability, transportation options, environmental sustainability, and social cohesion, as well as leveraging local assets to promote job growth and economic opportunities for local residents.
The Local Leadership Group and planning workshops were Chaired by Julie Donofrio, ULI Philadelphia member and Managing Director at PennPraxis, the University of Pennsylvania School of Design’s center for applied research, outreach and practice. The University of Pennsylvania provided an in-kind match to the ULI funds. The Leadership Group convened local stakeholders for a one-day planning review of data, existing plans and discussion about focus areas and challenges in late July. In December, a National Advisory Workshop brought outside experts from Washington, D.C., Detroit, and New York, to name a few, focused on the questions facing the corridor, ending in public presentation of recommendations and a feature in ULI Global Content.
“This project offers a great opportunity to look closely at a key neighborhood and important thoroughfare in the City that has recently undergone substantial development, and where additional is expected.” said Julie Donofrio, Managing Director of PennPraxis and Chair of the Grays Ferry Initiative. “As part of this process, we look forward to engaging with numerous partners and nearby institutions, as well as local residents and business owners, to discuss the potential of this area and future health outcomes.”