After a short stint at Pope John Paul II High School, Marc Collazzo is back on the streets of Philadelphia. He’s now executive director of the Mayfair Business Improvement District.
Back in July, Marc Collazzo left his job as district office manager for state Rep. John Taylor to become executive director of advancement and engagement at Pope John Paul II High School in Royersford.
“It’s a great place and a beautiful school,” Collazzo said.
But the commute wasn’t great from his home near Castor Avenue and Richmond Street in Bridesburg.
And then he learned in September that Sam Siegel was leaving as executive director of the Mayfair Business Improvement District.
“The timing was perfect,” Collazzo said.
Collazzo applied for the BID job and was hired by the board, leaving Pope John Paul II after a very short stint.
“It was better to do it sooner than later,” he said of his departure. “I wish them the best.”
Collazzo, 49, started his new job last week, and is excited.
“I’m a Northeast Philly guy. This is more in my wheelhouse, with my background and experience,” he said from his second-floor office of the Mayfair Community Center, 2990 St. Vincent St.
Collazzo replaces Siegel, who started as the Mayfair BID’s first executive director in April 2016 and resigned, effective Sept. 22.
Under the BID, 300-plus commercial properties make annual payments to support its efforts. Merchants pay based on what their properties are assessed.
The BID handles marketing and events; makes improvements to lighting, signage and landscaping; works with the 15th Police District; and employs Ready, Willing and Able to sweep streets and empty trash cans three days a week.
Collazzo is a 1986 graduate of George Washington High School, and earned a law degree from Widener University in 1993.
In 2010, he was the Republican candidate in the 170th Legislative District. He is a former Republican leader of the 58th Ward, and has been a board member for the Mayfair Community Development Corporation and St. Hubert High School.
Prior to joining Taylor’s staff in 2011, he was the policy analyst for former City Councilman Frank Rizzo.
Since starting his new job, he’s been visiting merchants along Frankford Avenue and Cottman Avenue to determine wants and needs. He’s sent out a questionnaire to see if merchants are offering special promotions. He’s sent the website addresses for information on the city’s storefront improvement grant program and SafeCam program, with the hope that police officers can monitor cameras in real time. And he’s directed property owners to the BID’s Facebook and Twitter pages, with plans to update the website.
“I work for all these businesses,” he said. “I am here to make sure these businesses get what they want to succeed.”
To bring growth to Mayfair, he plans outreach to the city Department of Commerce, the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.
“We want to make this the next destination stop,” he said.
Collazzo created the BID slogan, Make it Mayfair.
“Let’s bring unique things, like unique boutiques, things you can’t necessarily get anywhere else,” he said.
Collazzo wants the hard-working people of Mayfair to have a better pedestrian experience, more like a Main Street USA. A thriving commercial corridor will increase residential property values, he said.
“It makes for a better Mayfair,” he said.
Mayfair, two years into its five-year BID plan, already has a nice commercial corridor, he said, with endless opportunities.
Mayfair, he believes, has the same potential as other areas with successful BIDs: Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Aramingo Avenue in Port Richmond, Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia and the Center City District.
Just like Fishtown’s growth has boosted Port Richmond and Kensington, Collazzo believes a better Mayfair can help surrounding neighborhoods.
“Success breeds success,” he said. “When you see activity, it creates enthusiasm.”
The Mayfair BID board, led by chairman Mike “Scoats” Scotese, owner of the Grey Lodge Pub, is proactive and caring, Collazzo said.
The new executive director believes he’ll do well in the job because of his past work with community groups and government officials and his willingness to listen. He’s met with Capt. Anthony Luca, commander of the 15th Police District, and has a good relationship with community relations officer Matt Crossan.
Ideally, he’d meet developers with a vision for an even better commercial strip that already includes standouts such as Factory Donuts, Grey Lodge, House of Thai, Santucci’s and Bellalisa Hair Studio. Some more nice restaurants would be a good addition, in his view, to a strong crop of lawyers, doctors, dentists and chiropractors. The owners of the many bars in Mayfair are compliant and respectful, the way Collazzo sees it. And there’s always a need to improve the parking situation.
Collazzo is happy to be able to hit the ground running with partners such as the Mayfair Community Development Corporation, Mayfair Business Association and Mayfair Civic Association.
“Our goals are the same. We want to enhance what’s great about the community,” he said. ••
Tom Waring can be reached at 215–354–3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org