The Tacony Community Development Corporation was awarded a citation by Councilman Bobby Henon to commemorate 10 years of improving the Tacony neighborhood while celebrating its 10th anniversary on Tuesday night.
“This recognizes their accomplishments and recognizes their contribution to Tacony and in many different ways,” Henon said. “It’s neighborhood preservation, historic preservation and community engagement.”
The celebration was held at the Sons of Italy, board members of the CDC were in attendance, community members and partners of the CDC. Rep. Mike Driscoll (D-173rd dist.) also attended.
The board members are made up of various business owners in the Tacony neighborhood.
Georgeanne Labovitz, the owner of Marie Huff Hairdressing and president of the Tacony CDC board, called the event a celebration of all the people who have helped them along the way.
“We all have one goal,” Labovitz said. “Trying to make the neighborhood better.”
Labovitz went on to explain that the CDC works because it is made up of people who grew up in the Tacony neighborhood, many of whom are neighbors.
“We could move anywhere else, but we don’t,” Labovitz said. “We’re here because we love it, it’s a hidden treasure.”
The CDC was formed by volunteer residents in 2001 (it’s been professionally managed since 2011) who wanted to see a change in their community. According to their website, the program was created as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which uses historic preservation as a foundational tool to grow a robust commercial district.
“We use the Main Street approach, focusing on design, helping improve the appearance of the neighborhood and promoting it as a place to invest and live,” Alex Balloon, director and corridor manager of the Tacony CDC, said.
Due to its centralized location, the Tacony Library partners with CDC to coordinate many events, such as after-school care for children, a computer class, an English as a second language class and this year they are doing a summer program.
In 10 years, the CDC renovated 38 storefronts, planted 52 trees and created 78 jobs. The CDC was responsible for surveying the Tacony neighborhood to report building and safety violations. More than 6,000 properties were surveyed, which led to over 200 requests submitted to help remove graffiti, residential maintenance and other blight remediation.
The CDC has also helped facilitate a camera program along the corridor, provided mostly by the City Business Security Grant program.
The Tacony CDC is responsible for the hugely popular Halloween celebration, which grew to 4,000 attendees two years ago. They had to do a scaled-down version last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The events that the CDC holds are mostly family-oriented. “It’s very family-friendly,” Balloon said. “Because one out of three households in our neighborhood have children.”
Another reason to celebrate is the nomination of the Disston-Tacony Waterfront as a historic landmark. Although final determination for that won’t happen until the fall.
Oscar Beisert, an architectural historian, explained that the historical designation would allow them to keep the industrial buildings and repurpose and reuse them, something that the city doesn’t do often.
Beisert spoke of the importance of incorporating the history with how the site will be developed.
“Tacony could have a really cool waterfront,” Beisert said. “Tacony still has that industrial fabric that people find really appealing.” ••