E.Kensington/Gentrification Thread on Phillyblog

BenPhila's picture

Just wanted to repost this thread somebody started on Phillyblog's N. Libs/F-town/Kensington forum.
Read on and feel free to comment, I'd like to hear what current,E.Kensington residents (like myself) have to say on the matter. Read on:

Has gentrification reached Kensington yet in any ways?

How has the real estate market and improvements(or lack thereof) been going in Kensington these days? I'm aware of the massive gentrification completed to nearby areas Fishtown and Northern Liberties, and it seems to make sense that if this process continues, that South Kensington will be next, and the gentrification will sweep northbound. Any news of any improvements, such as new buildings or shopping centers? Or any news of plans to construct anything new soon?

I think Kensington is well overdue for a makeover. It's sad to hear about how nice and slightly upscale(??) it used to be, back in the days before the factories closed and the town went downhill. It'd be nice to see it come around again. Plus, it's a very convenient area...close to the El for rapid transportation into the city, not too far from center city, close to I-95 for taking visits up into the suburbs, and filled with quaint little houses and shops. There's some areas of vacant empty spaces overgrown with weeds, and it'd be nice if they were turned into parks or playgrounds. It'd be nice to see a makeover that involves bringing in more local businesses, such as pubs, restaurants, clothing boutiques, deli/markets, etc...basically the same types of businesses that probably existed in Kensington back in its heyday, in the early-to-mid 1900s. Therefore, it wouldn't surprise me to see drastic changes being made to this area within the next 10-15yrs(esp since changes have already gone underway to the Northern Liberties and Temple Univ./North Philly areas).

So has there been any progress yet? Any new plans for it?

snailgem's picture

BenPhila wrote: I'm aware of

BenPhila wrote:

I'm aware of the massive gentrification completed to nearby areas Fishtown and Northern Liberties,

Well, it's not complete yet in Fishtown, there are pockets of resistance here and there, but we're working on it ;-----)

tudor's picture

People are working on it,

People are working on it, but it takes time. I hope it'll be sooner than 10-15 years though. A big shout out to businesses in my neighborhood: Shannon's, Mr. Contractor, Quick Stop, Save a Lot and Joe's Appliances. Thanks guys--

NEW KENZO's picture

Coral Street Arts House

Coral Street Arts House apparently was part of NKCDC's gentrifying plan. As a resident there, I have to say it's not necessarily a big impact but it's brought people into the area to see the shows there. It's brought residents to the hood and some of them, my former neighbors, have bought houses nearby through NKCDC.
The changes are going on steadily, but the work needed slows it down. N. Libs was more of a blank canvas so to speak. kensington needs a lot of places cleaned up or rehabilitated. That's exactly what's happening though. People are moving in all the time and Im amazed at the amount of newbies in the blocks surrounding CSAH now. York street for example, seems to be shaping up nicely to a great couple blocks.

So yeah, it's happening, just slowly.

I also wonder if the proximity to the el is a noisy dodgy deterrent.

Jeffro's picture

Quote:Well, it's not

Quote:

Well, it's not complete yet in Fishtown, there are pockets of resistance here and there, but we're working on it ;-----)

Hey, I think Snailgem is talkin' about me! "Pocket of resistance" is actually my middle name.

snailgem's picture

Jeffro wrote:Quote:Well,

Jeffro wrote:
Quote:

Well, it's not complete yet in Fishtown, there are pockets of resistance here and there, but we're working on it ;-----)

Hey, I think Snailgem is talkin' about me! "Pocket of resistance" is actually my middle name.

yo Jeffro, I was thinking about you when I wrote that, like "I'm gonna write this let's see what Jeffro comes back with"

so instead of all those nostalgic "old days in the hood" cartoons, how about some biting "Gentrification is upon us" drawings?

jmminarik's picture

snailgem wrote: Well, it's

snailgem wrote:

Well, it's not complete yet in Fishtown, there are pockets of resistance here and there, but we're working on it ;-----)

Raise my property taxes to the obscene suburban rates and resistance may be forced out of the neighborhood. :-)

-Joe
"There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking." ~ Joshua Reynolds

AM's picture

I was walking home from the

I was walking home from the Berks el stop last night and I saw a couple working on a building right at Front & Montgomery (on Front)- it was looking good and had a beautiful archway in it. I thought it was really cool that someone was doing something with a property under the el.

brooke's picture

This reminds me--Bada Bingo

This reminds me--Bada Bingo never opened. How I long for it.

AM's picture

Bada Bingo (hehe) - I had

Bada Bingo (hehe) - I had forgotten about that. I was wondering if the couple I saw were planning on living there or opening a business, I wanted to stop and ask but it was pretty late and I was draggin'. If they are there tonight I'll ask.

Jeffro's picture

Y'know, Snailgem, we never

Y'know, Snailgem, we never had opossums in Fishtown until this gentrification thing started.

I'll have to think about those biting cartoons, like you said.

brooke's picture

I brought them

I brought them actually--from Upstate NY. There's 4 or 5 of us former Rochesterians in Fishtown...I'm going to guess it's a collective effort...unintentionally of course.

Larry99's picture

Jeffro wrote:Y'know,

Jeffro wrote:

Y'know, Snailgem, we never had opossums in Fishtown until this gentrification thing started.

haha. saw a nice big fat oppossum the other morning just sittin on the fence at Palmer Cemetery. My dogs were barking and jumping at it and he just sat there hissin' at 'em. I have to say those things give me the willies...

snailgem's picture

Jeffro wrote:Y'know,

Jeffro wrote:

Y'know, Snailgem, we never had opossums in Fishtown until this gentrification thing started.

I'll have to think about those biting cartoons, like you said.

here you go, Jeffro, you had the bear in the old cartoons, now in the new cartoons you can depict the gentrifiers as opossums.

Or how about one based on Larry's story, the hissing gentrifier on the fence being barked at by the ole faithful Fishtown dogs?

Jeffro's picture

Once I finish the Sketches

Once I finish the Sketches of Fishtown project (# 52 will be my last), I might have to take up submitting angry neighborhood editorial cartoons to the Spirit...Scathing sarcastic ranting panels on Arctic Splash, opossums, property taxes, dog parks, stolen trash cans, slashed tires, Brooke, flower boxes, and twenty-two year old suburban kids with supertight clothing disguised in Castro hats and beards up to their eyes who hang out and JBs every night shooting horrible billiards drinking expensive beer spending all their parents money when they should be doing their art school projects.

Hey, I could probably make a career out of this!

;)

jason's picture

I hope e. kensington doesn't

I hope e. kensington doesn't really gentrify. I'm all for things getting better, nicer looking, home values appreciating a little, but i really don't want the current residents to be forced out.

I'd rather the would be gentrifiers just buy up the abandoned houses and lived side by side with the kenzos. that's how it is now to an extent.

Jeffro's picture

Jason - that'd be a

Jason - that'd be a beautiful thing.

tudor's picture

jason wrote:I hope e.

jason wrote:

I hope e. kensington doesn't really gentrify. I'm all for things getting better, nicer looking, home values appreciating a little, but i really don't want the current residents to be forced out.

I'd rather the would be gentrifiers just buy up the abandoned houses and lived side by side with the kenzos. that's how it is now to an extent.

Agreed, that would really be ideal and would help the nabe a lot more. Also would cost a lot less and put more people to work.

snailgem's picture

jason wrote:I hope e.

jason wrote:

I hope e. kensington doesn't really gentrify. I'm all for things getting better, nicer looking, home values appreciating a little, but i really don't want the current residents to be forced out.

Well, I didn't force out anybody.

If you, other Fishtown Gentrifiers (you know who you are!) have forced out current residents, please fess up right here.

thekenzos's picture

we'll always love

we'll always love kensington
gentrified or scummy...

www.thekenzos.com

Ftown66's picture

Jeffro wrote:Y'know,

Jeffro wrote:

Y'know, Snailgem, we never had opossums in Fishtown until this gentrification thing started.

I'll have to think about those biting cartoons, like you said.

We didn't have fleas either. Hmmm! Makes you think.

NEW KENZO's picture

It amazes me how much has

It amazes me how much has happened in the 3 years Ive lived here. Most of the change involves houses, many of which were abandoned or boarded up, being restored, refurbished and inhabited. The amount of trash has diminished some too. Business like some galleries and restaurants on E.Kensingtons side of Frankford wouldnt be possible if not for this subtle shift and NKCDC, no doubt. Also there's talk of developing some more buildings like the Coral Street Arts House to be similar, not the same.

Ive not yet seen one possum on this side of Frankford though. That'll be when we know E.Kenzo made it and made it big.

stein's picture

Quote:If you, other Fishtown

Quote:

If you, other Fishtown Gentrifiers (you know who you are!) have forced out current residents, please fess up right here.

i forced out an older gentrifier. what kind of label do i get? new jack gent?

NEW KENZO's picture

Pushing people out is the

Pushing people out is the American dream.
I live in an amazing building (hence all youse being jealous btw) and my only regret is that it was an empty building previously. [sigh]

netable's picture

I grew up at Kensington and

I grew up at Kensington and Somereset, when I was a Kid' it was Great. Drugs started getting really Bad' though and Destroyed the neighborhood

Please do not take this as a Racist Remark, this is how alot of Former Kensington Residents' explain what happened. Not that I agree

In order to purchase drugs' (Lots of Kenzo's sold Drugs, but it wasn't out in the open on Corners'etc) you needed to walk over the bridge (Rocky Bridge on Tusclum St) to purchase heroin, cocaine, harder drugs.

That was mostly a puerto rican neighborhood', well eventually Puerto Rican's started moving on the other side of the Bridge, and the residents that could afford to move' RAN out because of What "they" say (Not me) <~~~ that as soon as Puerto Rican's move in the neighborhood is going down.

I don't think it actually had anything to do with Race' I know it had everything to do with Drugs' The Funny thing is, that in all actuality, the "White" kids I grew up with had a HUGE part in ruining the neighborhood, because they started Selling Drugs on Corners, Renting Corners to Dominican's (This is a whole different thread) and they absolutely were very responsible in the Downfall of Kensington and Somerset,

My Sister still lives in my Parents' home there and it is horrible' The people on the Streets look like Zombies' No one has any consideration for themselves' let alone anyone else. It's not because of Black's, Puerto Rican's, White's, it's because of Drugs and Drugs do not discriminate.

16 yrs ago, I decided that I HAD TO GET OUT of Kensington and Somerset, I always wanted to go to Fishtown because I had lots of friends and family, and truly felt that Fishtowners' fight hard to Keep certain individuals out (not Pr's or Blacks) they wouldn't allow Drugs on their Corners; (although tons of Drug Dealers' are Fishtown Residents', Newbies would be surprised to find out what Coaches' Shop Owners' etc are Drug Dealers' seriously) it was just never "OUT" in our Community the way it is Now, mostly on the "Down Low", and I guess "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" <~~~Not that I think it is OK, I hate it!!

So when I was able to move' I didn't move the East Kensington, because that absolutely was following the same footsteps as K&A, and I didn't want to have to move in another few years'

I love the difference I see in East Kensington, I love that the Dealers' are being chased away' I love that the Residents' are taking pride in their Community. I can remember Pop's Playground and how it was always "Bad" and always "Crap", and Teener' has done an Absolutely Wonderful Job, I drove by the other day and was "shocked" and "Speechless" on the transformation, and it was an awesome feeling' and the same night I drove by the Rec and was so Sad to see so many of the Kids that my Johnny grew up with on heroin, using the Rec as their personal Drug Store'

These stupid Kids are our Future and their all High, disgustingly doped up, It sure suxs' everytime I see 1 of them I want to shake them until they wake up and realize that they are destroying their lives, dreams, family and Community.

I love my Neighborhood' And I personally will not ever again allow someone to chase me out' I would definitely fight to the end.

There should definitely be some harsher laws against "Drug Dealing", they are the ones who destroy neighborhoods'

When I see the younger generation of Fishtown' it is really sad' horribly sad.

And when I drive by the Rec, I am stunned to see how drugs can be sold 50 feet from a Police Station' it's bizare

Teener' Major Props for you and the rest of Pop's Playground Commitee' it is such a HUGE difference, I appreciate and am in AWE of the people who continue to make a difference. You and your Team are amazing =) Thank you for all your time and work that you put into Pop's, Those neighborhood Kid's will forever be Grateful =)

teener's picture

Annette, Thank you so much

Annette,

Thank you so much for your compliments on Pop's Playground. We (the Friends of Pop's) have been working VERY hard for the last 5 years on this space (I have only been helping for the last 2) and the changes are incredible. Sometimes it is a real battle and I want to tear my hair out- but most days it is obvious that it is worth it.

My thoughts about East Kenso change just as frequently. Sometimes I can't wait to sell or rent our house and get the heck out to the country. I can't stand living in fear of our vacant/slum lord owned properties and who is going to rent them with no water or plumbing in them (but Landvest doesn't care)...or the dealers on bikes and jerks that want it to stay the same because they think they can run the hood with drugs and intimidation.

Other days I look around and see my neighbors laughing with each other as they clean our block and plant flowers (and someone had the nerve to say our block was the dirties around- sic maybe 3 years ago it was but not now!!!), I see new faces and old- uniting to get rid of drug or nuisance house, and new restaurants and stores and galleries, and sometimes I think wow- I get to watch it all happen and it is worth it!

I never knew who my neighbors were before I lived here-I never knew what a sense of community was or how gracias and kind a good neighbor could be. I see that now and I get to be a positive part of it every day...good and bad..and that is something you just don't get in many neighborhoods.

stilljes's picture

I'm a recent buyer in East

I'm a recent buyer in East Kensington and a noobie. We bought the house of an elderly woman with Alzheimer's who'd been sent to a nursing home. We bought in East Kensington because it was a nice neighborhood that was affordable and we were able to get a really nice house for the money we have, which isn't much. My husband and I grew up middle class out-of-state, so I guess that makes us gentrifiers.

I guess that makes me a bad person. I suppose we should've continued renting in a neighborhood we couldn't really afford to avoid being granted that title. If the contractor that we bought from hadn't come in to buy the house, it would still be decaying. No one would be removing the trash that collects in front of the house... I like to think we have a positive impact on our block. I'm part of a long, long story of the City of Philadelphia... of neighborhoods rising in prominence and going downhill. It's been going on long before our generations and will continue as long as this city exists.

NEW KENZO's picture

stilljes wrote:I'm a recent

stilljes wrote:

I'm a recent buyer in East Kensington and a noobie. My husband and I grew up middle class out-of-state, so I guess that makes us gentrifiers.

I guess that makes me a bad person.

yes

teener's picture

Hey stilljes don't give in

Hey stilljes don't give in to the hype- I hope you don't really think you are a bad person because you bought within your means and live in a changing neighborhood.

If everyone bought within their means, and took care of their homes, and had pride in where they lived, then this city and cities across the US would be in a much better position then they are.

There is nothing wrong with coming from a different state and buying and taking care of a home that you can afford.

NEW KENZO wrote:
stilljes wrote:

I'm a recent buyer in East Kensington and a noobie. My husband and I grew up middle class out-of-state, so I guess that makes us gentrifiers.

I guess that makes me a bad person.

yes

Check it out- Pops Playground has a website @ http://www.popsplayground.org

codergrrl's picture

Its a double edged

Its a double edged sword...
Alot of homes became available because anyone who had a dollar ran up to the Northeast to save themselves.
They were in for a big surprise.
I'm thinking that gentrification really affected the renters in a more negative way.
But honestly, alot of them were just transient white trash who never got it together enough to buy a house. (Modus operendi was to just get the first/last and security together, which at that time would be about $600 bucks, and then hang in there until the eviction notices started rolling in.)
Compared to some of the renters near my home, which has had apartment buildings near it for over thirty years...I'd rather have the newbies, then some of the circus freaks that lived there before.

2014 susquehanna's picture

Gentrification isn't a

Gentrification isn't a problem in East Kensington. At least not on the West side of Frankford. Nobody has been pushed out, taxes have not gone up, the streets are still filthy and crime is still entrenched in much of the neighborhood. No Worries.