MMPartners Painted Sign of the Day - What is this all about?

As some people may have seen on the MMPartners Facebook page, we have been posting photos of old painted signs and asking people to guess where they are. We figured it made sense to give a little background on why we like these painted signs so much, so here goes:

In this era of globalization where the majority of products we buy are made halfway around the world it's interesting to reflect back on the early and middle part of the twentieth century when most products were made locally in urban factories.

These factories were located in the urban core of American cities such as Philadelphia, New York, LA, San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland and Detroit (to name just a few). These factories typically operated out of multi-story loft warehouses. Quite often these factories and the products they produced served as a great source of pride for the city, its citizens and most importantly the work force that produced the goods. This arrangement created a bond between the consumer and the products that they purchased and used. Most importantly these factories/companies were economic generators for the city they were located in creating jobs and generating taxes both of which contributed to making cities vibrant and successful. Many of these factories employed multiple generations of families working together, thus creating a bond with the employees, the owners and the city at large.

These buildings not only served as the factories where these goods were produced, but they were quite literally the companies’ identity. Most of these factories would have large hand painted advertisements for the company painted directly on their buildings, or the exterior wall space would be rented to other advertisers, usually other local companies.

Toward the latter half of the 20th century as manufacturing shifted from a manual labor centric process to an automated process these buildings could no longer accommodate the new automated manufacturing equipment required in order for these companies to stay competitive and thus these buildings became obsolete. Most of these companies were either forced to move to the suburbs into large modern one story manufacturing and distribution facilities, move manufacturing overseas to low cost producers or they simply went out of business as they could no longer remain competitive. Once these factories began leaving the urban core most of the buildings were left vacant due to their obsolescence. It was the movement of these factories out of city combined with the suburbanization of this country that were the main catalysts for the downfall of cities in this country from 1950s to the early 1990s.

Today, this country is experiencing a re-urbanization with cities from coast to coast undergoing a renaissance which first took root in the early-to-mid part of the 1990s. There is renewed interest in downtown living from all types of people ranging from young professionals to empty nesters and ironically they all share one thing in common: their new home of choice is often a loft. I say ironically because these lofts are housed in the same buildings where factories once existed that were the original economic and social drivers of cities. Today it’s the adaptive re-use of these same factories that is once again driving the growth of cities and making them desirable places to live, work and play.

Anyone who has ever spent time walking around some of the older cities in this country surely has looked up and noticed faded advertisements painted on the side or fronts of early 20th century loft buildings. Now instead of being factories these same buildings are high end homes or offices for companies that create a different kind of product such as software, content or other creative endeavors.

As real estate developers specializing in urban redevelopment we love these signs because they illustrate the story of what once drove the seemingly endless growth of American industrial power in the early 20th century and the urban places these factories were located in followed by the subsequent downfall of cities as the first stages of globalization began. Today these same buildings tell the story of the re-emergence of cities and as history always repeats itself, bringing businesses and residents back to cities is what will drive the continued rebirth of cities.

We hope everyone enjoys these photos and if you keep an eye out when wandering around your favorite city you will be amazed at how many of these signs still exist.

Sixth Straight Year of Population Gains for Philadelphia

According to new census data, Philadelphia sees its sixth year of population gains. Over 7000 new residents moved to Philadelphia last year. While Philadelphia is still in 6th place as largest city in the US it marks a departure from projections that originally projected Philadelphia would be losing population.

This is a bullish sign for Philadelphia and urban places on the whole. More people are choosing to live in cities and we will see this trend continuing for some time as this country re-urbanizes.

Record Numbers Of College Graduates Moving Back In With Parents

According to new research, over 80% of college graduates are moving back in with their parents after college. This got me to thinking is this due to not having a job or money? or being prudent and living at home to save up money or a combination of both? If it's being prudent I think this can be attributed to the younger generation witnessing first hand the "great recession," which has most certainly had a profound effect.

If you look at our grandparents generation who lived through the Great Depression they saved, didn't really use credit cards and basically lived within their means. Hopefully we are seeing a renewal of these values.

This does pose an interesting question for housing, particularly rental housing in cities where many college graduates congregate. Will this trend create pent up demand? Will it create demand for new types of housing? Only Time will tell.

Portland Taking Interesting Approach To Creating Walkable Sustainable Neightborhoods

Just read this great article over at, where the mayor of Portland OR talks about creating what he calls 20 minute neighborhoods throughout the Portland MSA. His definition of a 20 minute neighborhood is effectively a neighborhood where you can walk or bike to restaurants - they liken it to a "mixed use development."

It would seem Philadelphia is extremely well positioned to leverage this concept as it's a city of neighborhoods. It would be interesting to see this concept made part of the Greenworks Initiative or some other program(s).

New Report Shows More People Walking and Biking

A new Federal Highway Administration Report due out today that studied the last 15 years of data on biking and walking has found a tremendous uptick in these activities.

From 1990 to 2009, the number of trips taken on foot more than doubled from 18 billion to 42.5 billion. Similarly, the number of bike trips increased from 1.7 billion to 4 billion.

This is a very good sign as it shows people are becoming less dependent on cars. And if you have read some of our other posts which show younger people are shunning cars and a re-urbanization both bode well for these figures to continue to increase. The benefits are obvious in terms of impact on the environment and wellness (obesity). It will be interesting to keep an eye on this trend in the future.

We know most of our tenants in Brewerytown have bikes, use public transit and walk a lot and most of them are young (under 30).

Catching Up With B Love of

Were you a fan of the late, great, photography website, Philly Skyline? B Love has left us for Portland, but his baseball heart remains in Philadelphia. In fact, you can catch his occasional posts on the fantastic Phillies blog The Fightins.

Which brings me to his latest post calling for a call-to-the-majors for top prospect Domonic Brown. I can't agree at this stage of the season. Despite the Phils' recent struggles there is plenty of baseball left, and the law of averages is on their side. Let Brown continue to mature, and revisit the issue in late July.

$19m Of Improvements Coming To the Parkway

The city just announced that work will commence immediately on over $19m worth of improvements to the Parkway including more bike lanes, one less car lane and a cafe pavilion. This is definitely a step in the right direction but would like to see more car lanes eliminated and add some retail so the Parkway is less like a highway. Link to story.

Art + Soul Food = Btown June 12th

2nd Annual Art + Soul Food along West Girard Avenue, Brewerytown Saturday, June 12th, 2010 2-6PM

Philadelphia, PA (May 17, 2010)- The 2nd Annual Art + Soul Food event will take place on Saturday June 12th, 2010 from 2-6pm along the 2500-2900 blocks of West Girard Avenue. The annual event celebrates life, art, and soul food in Philadelphia’s Brewerytown neighborhood. The inaugural event last year drew an impressive crowd despite unfavorable weather conditions and now in its second year the event promises to be an even bigger success.
Art + Soul Food transforms over 20 area businesses and vacant storefronts into an eclectic mix of art galleries highlighting mostly local talent. From the dry cleaners to the sneaker shop and even the sidewalks themselves the entire avenue becomes one enormous celebration of art. Couple that celebration with the delectable tastes of the some of the city’s best soul food restaurants and you get Art + Soul Food.
This year’s Art + Soul Food has some exciting additions and highlights, including: A meet and greet with Darryl McCray of “Cornbread” fame, a former Brewerytown resident dubbed the father of modern graffiti. Catch the trailer to his upcoming documentary “Cry of the City” by producer Sean McKinight setting the record straight on Cornbread. A recent mural installation by acclaimed muralist and street artist, Shepard Fairey of New York City. Shepard Fairey is most known for designing the iconic Obama poster during the 2008 presidential election. Showcasing work of local artists including Young, owner of Young’s Sneaker City. Young will display his work that is normally only stored in the back office of his sneaker shop. It’s not uncommon to see him at his easel in the back of the shop on any given day. Art and music from 10 area students from St. Luke’s Baptist Church After School Program will be on display along the avenue. Plus, the official Heineken After Party at North Star Bar (27th & Poplar) featuring Heineken Specials and soul music from 6-9pm.
The event, a collaboration of local community groups, aims to instill a sense of pride amongst neighbors in the area as well as highlight all the positive features of the neighborhood to visitors. Art + Soul Food is sponsored by Heineken, MM Partners, Pennrose Development, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and It’s made possible by the collaboration of a number of community groups including the Fairmount Community Development Corporation (CDC), Greater Brewerytown CDC, West Girard Business Association, and the Girard Coalition.
For more information about Art + Soul Food visit To receive sponsorship information or to learn how to showcase your work contact the Fairmount CDC at or by calling 215.232.4766.

Cars Trending Down ... Bikes Trending Up!

Via Richard Florida and Nate Silver comes evidence that car use is peaking. To quote Florida:

Younger people today -- in fact, people of all ages -- no longer see the car as a necessary expense or a source of personal freedom. In fact, it is increasingly just the opposite: not owning a car and not owning a house are seen by more and more as a path to greater flexibility, choice, and personal autonomy.

Philadelphia is smartly following this trend; the City is doubling the miles of marked bike lanes. We here at MMPartners welcome these trends. We are investing in Brewerytown precisely because of its location. Living or working in Brewerytown is convenient, and you do not need a car.

Article On Artists Collectives In Philadelphia

From, a great story on artist collectives throughout Philadelphia.

The Arts Corridor project on Frankford Avenue is just one example of artists finding new neighborhoods and new venues for their art. It is happening throughout the city - an organic movement, often centered around the large number of co-operative and collective spaces being created by artists, many of them relatively new to Philadelphia.

These co-ops exhibit new work, provide a space for the exchange of artistic ideas, and create microcommunities across the cities that sometimes extend their reach into both surrounding neighborhoods and the wider art world.

These collectives not only provide a great venue for artists to showcase their work but are great for creative collaboration and of course neighborhood development.

MM is working on a project at 2617-19 W. Girard which will include artist studios and possibly exhibit space as we strongly believe the arts are a key component to any neighborhood.

Walk To Work - Center City To Brewerytown

My car was is in the shop this morning so I decided to walk to the office from my house in the Fitler Square neighborhood via the Schuylkill River Trail to Brewerytown. It took only 25 minutes and was a nice way to start the day. I saw tons of people doing the same thing I was. In addition, lots of people exercising (biking, running, karate, yoga, etc). Notice the photos of cars sitting traffic as well as the statue of Stephen Girard behind the Art Museum.

In Light Of the Gulf Oil Spill Very Interesting Graphic On Oil Use, Location, ETC

From Good Magazine, a very interesting graphic which shows where oil is, who uses it, and lots of other interesting data. Bottom Line, US uses a ton of it yet we produce very little of it and are forced to buy it from often hostile regimes.

Community Garden At 30th & Harper In Brewerytown

I was strolling by the community garden on 30th and Harper in Brewerytown today and noticed it has recently undergone a very nice upgrade, check it out.

Philadelphia To Double Number of Bike Lanes - Nice Move

According to an article on

The city's proposed new bicycle network, now undergoing final revisions, will roughly double the miles of marked bike lanes to about 400, not counting 40 or so miles of separate trails on parklands. The bike lanes will come over the next decade as streets are repaved.

We applaud this, the key is really uniting all the bike lanes into a more cohesive transportation network, perhaps link to burbs, septa (imagine changing stations and secure bike storage at regional rail stops).

Mexican Restaurant Coming To W. Girard Avenue In Brewerytown

Back in March we put out a call for a Mexican restaurant to come up to W. Girard Avenue in Brewerytown. In just two months we are very excited to announce that we have just signed a Letter Of Intent with a very accomplished Chef (who must remain nameless for the time being) to open his first restaurant at 2711 W Girard. The project must be classified as tentative until full financing is in place, but we can say that it will feature a combination of authentic Mexican food and flavor from all regions of Mexico and, despite being a BYO, will provide a changing, unique menu of specialty cocktail mixers to add to your favorite spirit.

The Chef aims to create a cozy atmosphere with impeccable service, a communal table, and be affordable with a full meal (appetizer, entrée, dessert) running $20-25 per person. The restaurant will seat 40 or more and will be open from 4pm to 10pm Tuesday through Saturday.

Some Ideas On Improving Public Transportation In America

It seems that improving public transportation has been getting a good deal of attention lately (it's about time). Whether it's high speeds trains, light rail or other forms of mass transit - the goals are usually to improve how people move around their neighborhoods, cities and city to city. I came across two interesting articles recently; one on Japan finally exporting its bullet train technology - technology that Japan has long guarded but now finally sees the upside in letting other countries implement this amazing technology. Here is a link to the article.
On Tuesday, the Central Japan Railway Company took the visiting United States transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, on a test run — a 312-mile-an-hour tryout for the lucrative economic stimulus contracts that the United States plans to award to update and expand its rail network.
The other article looks at how early public transit in cities was privately financed by real estate developers and electric utility companies and they paid cities for the right of ways. The article suggests this is a good way to improve public transit, however attitudes in this country towards public transit probably would hinder this happening. Nonetheless it's quite intriguing and makes sense and maybe is not so far fetched.

More and more infrastructure is being privately financed today - toll roads, airports, charter schools, parks. So why not public transit? If you look at trains, this country would be well served by a private company(s) running high speed rail as Amtrak certainly hasn't done a good job.

With federal, state and local governments budgets already strained and our countries infrastructure in dire need of upgrading perhaps the revising the private sector financing makes sense?

Planting the Tree Beds Along Girard Avenue

We have begun cleaning out the tree beds in front of our properties along W. Girard Avenue in Brewerytown and are planting and mulching them as well. Here is a photo of the first one in front of MMPartners' office at 2621 W. Girard Avenue. We are planning on doing the same next week in front of 2711 W. Girard, 2819 W. Girard and up and down the north side of the 2900 Block of West Girard where we own 7 properties.

Study Shows Cul-De-Sacs Kill Communities (DUH??)

While we certainly didn't need an official study to tell us that suburban cul-de-sacs kill communities, we now have proof they do - click here. This ties into the overall trend of re-urbanization that is going on in this country with this shift making some parts of this country like Europe where the poor are concentrated in suburbs as opposed to city. It will be very interesting to see the results of the 2010 Census and whether it will validate this trend. Key will be finding ways to create mixed-income communities in cities and suburbs.

Images From Shepard Fairey May Day Show At Deitch Projects

Yesterday I was in New York and stopped by the Deitch Project gallery to check out the Shepard Fairey May Day show. Here are some images from the show and a cool mural across the street from the gallery which is similar to the mural across from MM Partners offices at 2617-19 W. Girard Avenue in Brewerytown. Check out the show if you can, very cool



Standup Sunda Croonquist, born in Paterson, N.J. to a an African American mother and a Swedish father, was sued two years ago for allegedly defaming her Jewish mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law.

On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge in Trenton ruled that the comedian's routines expressed opinions, not facts, and so were protected as free speech.

Ironically, in one YouTube video, Croonquist says, "These are not mother-in-law jokes, because you can't make this up."

One reason the in-laws got riled is that Croonquist wasn't discreet about their identities, naming sister-in-law Shelley Edelman, for example, in a bit calling her the kind of "Jewish broad" who says nyihnt at the end of every sentence, like a cat in heat."

Judge Mary L. Cooper called such remarks "colorful, figurative rhetoric that reasonable minds would not take to be factual."

Shelley and husband Neil, of Morganville in Monmouth County, brought the suit, along with Croonquist's mother-in-law, Ruth Zafrin, who lives in Brooklyn. Croonquist and her attorney husband, Mark Zafrin, live in Beverly Hills. His firm represented her.

In her act, Croonquist tells jokes like: "I am a black woman with a Jewish mother-in-law, OK? Now you know the only thing we have in common: We don't want to get our hair wet."

"Drama from the moment I met my mother-in-law!" she continues, telling how her husband decided to introduce her to family at a Passover seder - and advised her not to mention being black, as if his mother wouldn't notice.

"But she noticed and that's when I noticed that Jews can't whisper," Croonquist said. ". . . Latinos know how to whisper, blacks know how to whisper . . ..

"I meet Ruthie for the first time, and she says, 'Thank you so much for coming, have a seat, and Elliot, put my pocketbook away."

And so on.

Croonquist shared reactions on her blog in June.

"I can't begin to tell you how sad this is," she wrote. "My children are so sad not knowing who their family is. Not ever knowing their cousins, and worse than that. Their grandmother, aunt and uncle is suing their mom."

"It's not every day a comedian is sued by their in-laws!," she continued on "Most people pick up a phone if they don't like a joke. Let's focus on the good things on life like my children's shoe addiction."

A Spring Afternoon Stroll Around Brewerytown

Today I needed a break so I took a late afternoon walk from the MM Partners HQ at 2621 W. Girard Avenue around the neighborhood and down to Kelly Drive. I snapped these images along the way of the Parkway, Fairmount Park, Art Museum, Kelly Drive, Pennsylvania Avenue.

Cycling Rises 28% Year Over Year In NYC

This seems to be a nationwide trend, we have seen a similar trend in philadelphia and elsewhere. See full article on Infrastructurist, here are some quick highlights.

* 236,000 New Yorkers are riding bikes every day.
* 51,000 New Yorkers started biking in the just last year alone.
* One out of every 24 vehicles in motion on city streets is a bicycle.
* New Yorkers travel 1.8 million miles by bicycle every day.
* Bicycling is New York City’s fastest-growing mode of transportation.

Video Of Modular House Being Built In Brewerytown

Here is a short video we put together on the modular modern house we are building in Brewerytown off W. Girard Avenue. We will include new videos as the house nears completion. This house was pre-sold before we even broke ground.

Mural Arts Program + Shepard Fairey = New Mural In Brewerytown

Here is the official press release from Mural Arts announcing the murals Shepard Fairey will be doing in Philadelphia this Friday. One of them will be on Brewerytown at MM Partners' offices located at 2621 W. Girard Avenue. Feel free to swing by after 4.30pm this Friday if you want to watch him in action.

Big Day! Modular Boxes Delivered

For those who have been following on the MM Partners Blog or Facebook Page or Twitter, we have been building a new construction modular house at 924 N. 27th Street. After weeks of preparation the modular boxes arrived today and were set on the foundation. We are putting together a short video which will show the boxes being placed and more and will post it when it's done. In the interim enjoy these photos (the shot of the skyline is from the living room)

Shepard Fairey Mural Coming To Brewerytown

MM Partners is pleased to announce that Shepard Fairey will be painting a mural on our office building at 2621 W. Girard Avenue this Friday, April 23rd. Shepard is probably best known for his iconic Obama Hope image. We can't thank Mural Arts enough for making this happen.

He will be painting after 4pm this Friday, feel free to stop by.

Megawords Project On - Check It Out

Some of you may know about Megawords, it's a locally produced magazine featuring very cool photos of Philly and its surrounds. They are looking to raise funds on Kickstarter, it's a great magazine and worth supporting. Megawords participated in Art + Soulfood 2009 with a space at 2621 W. Girard Avenue.

Show them your support and donate some loot.

Temple Issues $150 Million In Bonds To Finance $1.2 Billion Neighborhood Development

Temple University recently sold $150 million worth of bonds to begin work on a decade long $1.2 billion dollar neighborhood redevelopment project designed to make North Broad Street a 24/7 vibrant urban area. Temple is taking a similar approach to what University of Pennsylvania undertook in University City and Columbia University did in Morningside Heights. Here is a link to a story on Philadelphia Business Journal.

Great Piece on Urban Farming For Ecnonomic Development of Cities

Here is a great article from The Infrastructurist on urban farming as a tool for urban redevelopment. As we have posted before we strongly believe small and medium scale urban farming would work great in Philadelphia as the city has lots of vacant lots which are ideal for urban farming as a way to land bank for future development, improve fresh food options in inner city neighborhoods, create jobs and community and support of the buy local movement.

The article mentions Greensgrow Farms here in Philadelphia which is an amazing operation.

Philadelphia Commercial Corridors Getting 440 More Big Belly Solar Trash Cans

Using a combination of stimulus money and city funds, Philadelphia Commercial Corridors will be getting 440 more solar powered Big Belly trash cans - for those that don't know these are the new trash cans all over Center City with built in compactors. They are great as they run on solar power, require fewer pick ups and hopefully less littering as they don't fill up like the old school trash cans. Here is hoping W. Girard Avenue in Brewerytown are getting some.

See article here from the Inquirer.

Philadelphia Parks Commissioner Calls For 300,000 New Trees

The City of Philadelphia wants to plant 300,000 trees in its goal to be the greenest city. We like this. As a small part of this initiative MM Partners is planting 14 trees this Spring along W. Girard Avenue, 1200 Block of N. Taney Street and 1300 Block of N. 29th Street in Brewerytown. We will send post photos once they are planted.

Here is a link to an article in the Inquirer about this initiative.

New Septa Trains Debut - Pretty Pretty Nice

Septa has spanky new trains that debuted today, check them out here:

Next Installment In the Temple Philadelphia Neighborhoods Series On Brewerytown

Here is the latest article in the ongoing series being written by Temple Journalism students on Brewerytown as part of the Philadelphia Neighborhoods project. This story focuses on economic development along Girard Avenue, something MM Partners strongly supports. Enjoy the photo of Aaron and Cooper who work with MM Partners.

The Hidden Costs of Non-Walkable Housing

An Urban Land Institute study in the Boston area found that:
“What we have too frequently thought is that you can get an affordable house if you drive until you qualify, but if you then overlay the costs of transportation, they get very high,’’ said Henry Cisneros, secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration and a board member at the institute, a research group based in Washington, D.C.
There is a reason walkable neighborhoods are more expensive...

Foundation Just About Done - Modular Boxes Arrive Next Week

Here is a progress photo of the house we are building at 924 N. 27th Street, the foundation will be complete in the next two days. Early next week the modular boxes will be delivered and erected on site. Stay tuned for more photos and video.

Brewerytown Clean Up Project - Philly Spring Cleanup 2010

MM is proud to have participated in cleaning up the playground/ball field at 31st and Thompson Streets in Brewerytown as part of the Philadelphia Spring Cleanup Project. Mr. James Carter of the Greater Brewerytown CDC coordinated the event and did a great job getting neighborhood residents and kids to chip in. We were blown away by the sheer number of cleanup projects throughout Brewerytown.

Metro Philadelphia Article Today - "Brewerytown Next Hot Spot"

We of course are biased, so surprisingly we agree with this article in today's Philadelphia Metro that Brewerytown is a great place to live and invest. The article discusses the development along W. Girard Avenue including new retail coming like Mugshots Coffee Shop and the campaign to get a Mexican restaurant restaurant up to the avenue.

Nice quote by Mr. Roller btw.

What Is The Future of Urban Retail?

Great think piece about urban retail in the internet shopping era by Greg at Urban Direction. Here's a sample:
...I would argue that cities still have the strongest chance to keep small, diverse, and privately-owned retailers open, but it depends on their ability to understand the new market forces brought on by online shopping, and the necessity of centralizing their major retailers so as to create the critical mass of shoppers needed to provide the kind of retail we have traditionally come to expect from urban shopping. Small commercial corridors can certainly stay relevant based on the perpetual need for place-based, Internet-resilient businesses. However, downtowns and larger urban commercial corridors continue to need anchors....

Awesome Mid Century Urban Photography - Detriot

courtesy of the great blog Cool Hunting - Follow the link below for some fantastic photos of Detroit in the 1950's.

Mid-century Motor City images from Robert Frank's iconic American road trip.

Brownstoner Real Estate Blog Launching Philadelphia Version

The awesome real estate blog Brownstoner which covers real estate and the like in Brooklyn is launching in Philadelphia tomorrow. We can't wait to start following it and we suggest you do the same. Hopefully they will cover all the development taking place in Brewerytown.

Philadelphia Neighborhoods - Revitalization in Brewerytown

Here is the new installment from the Philadelphia Neighborhood Series by Temple University Journalism students. The story focuses on bringing new retail up to W. Girard Avenue with a focus on Mugshots opening at 2831 W. Girard as the catalyst to drive additional new retail.

Here is a link to the story, enjoy the video where Aaron Smith kills it. He is really using up his fifteen minutes of fame fast.

Plan Philly Chronicles Rise of Retail In Center City

Over on Plan Philly there is a great article talking about the continued retail renaissance in Center City Philadelphia which date has gone unnoticed. Here is a link to the article

This is a trend MM Partners is pushing in Brewerytown to bring interesting service oriented retail to W. Girard Avenue and are working diligently to bring businesses like Mugshots up to the Avenue. We are currently working on a Mexican Restaurant and have some other interesting retailers are in the works.

Arts Grants Doled Out By City of Philadelphia

The City of Philadelphia awarded $500,000 in Creative Industry Workforce Grants to a number of great projects, see full article here, list below:

Connection Training Services - $60,000
2243 W. Allegheny Street (North Philadelphia)
Creation of the North Philadelphia Creative Arts Center and Gallery at the Allegheny Business Center, an arts incubator for ex-offenders

Crane Old School, LP - $100,000
1425 N. 2nd Street (Kensington)
$1.7 million conversion of an historic school into multi-tenant artist and commercial arts space, including the new Pig Iron Theater School

Octo Enterprises Incorporated - $100,000
2214-14 Alter Street (Point Breeze)
Industrial building renovation and expansion for new artist workspace

Olney Cultural Collaborative - $20,000
An initiative of the North 5th Revitalization Project, a program of the Korean
Community Development Services Center (Olney)
Office renovation for neighborhood cultural programming initiative

Revolution Recovery - $40,000
7333 Milnor Street (Northeast)
Artist workspace and office space at recycling facility for a new artist in residency program.

Underground Arts at the Wolf Building - $50,000
340 N. 12th Street Associates, LP (Callowhill)
Creation of a Multi-disciplinary Arts Venue

Vox Populi - $30,000
319 N. 11th Street (Callowhill)
Creation of multi-disciplinary performance venue and additional artist studios

2215 East Tioga Street Gallery & Studios - $100,000
2215 East Tioga Street (Kensington)
Rehabilitation to create an art gallery and sculpture garden

Walkable Neighborhoods Are More Expensive For A Reason

Check out your neighborhood's Walk Score.

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Homes located within walking distance of amenities such as schools, parks and shopping aren't only more convenient for their owners, often they're also worth more than homes in neighborhoods where driving is the rule, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The report looked at 94,000 real-estate transactions in 15 markets. In 13 of those markets, higher levels of "walkability" were directly linked to higher home values...

Coalition Working to Get Google to Install Gigabit Network in Philadelphia

Just read about the Gigabit Philly initiative on Technically Philly (a great blog and group btw) - Gigabit Philly is a:

massive collaboration between city government, the grassroots tech and creative communities, and hundreds of organizations and individuals, all with one simple goal: to make Philadelphia the world's first-ever gigabit city

Check out the site here to learn more and to submit your ideas on what could be done with that network here in Philadelphia.

Brewerytown Gets Honorable Mention In Philadelphia Magazine Real Estate Issue

The new issue of Philadelphia Magazine on best neighborhoods to live in mentions Brewerytown as a great place to live on par with Graduate Hospital. Here is a link.

We Are Looking For a Few Good Tacos

MM Partners in partnership with the Girard Coalition and The Merchant Fund is looking to entice a mexican restaurant to come join Mugshots in the W Girard Avenue retail renaissance.

We have a few renovated storefronts on W. Girard Avenue in Brewerytown that are ideal locations and will provide a generous fit out package along with potential grant money to assist a business owner with the upfront costs. There is real demand for a mexican restaurant and we are committed to helping make it a reality. Please contact us if you are interested.

For everyone else, please stay tuned as we will keep you up to date on our progress.

Here is the Press Release issued today and it was already covered on Foobooz and Phoodie


CONTACT: Angel Coleman
Executive Director, Girard Coalition, Inc.

Girard Avenue Seeking Mexican Restaurant
Grant Funding Available
The Girard Coalition, Inc., is partnering with MM Partners, LLC and The Merchant’s Fund to attract a Mexican restaurant to West Girard Avenue in Brewerytown. The restaurant should offer authentic Mexican cuisine, and be willing to serve a lunch and dinner crowd. This opportunity would be ideal for a restaurateur looking to open a second location on a growing commercial corridor.
The location is between Brewerytown and Fairmount, just minutes from the Art Museum, Fairmount Park, the new Westrum development (Brewerytown Square), the Philadelphia Zoo and I-76.
MM Partners, LLC is a real estate development, management and construction company committed to the revitalization of the West Girard corridor. They have several mixed-use properties for lease. MM has recently signed a lease with Mugshots Coffee House & Café for 2831 W Girard. The Mexican restaurant will be housed in one of MM’s available commercial spaces, and they will provide a generous tenant improvement package to sweeten the deal. Visit their website for more information.
The Merchants Fund is a Philadelphia charity established in 1854 to provide charitable gifts to business persons facing financial hardship. Their mission is to provide financial assistance to current and past merchants in Philadelphia. They will provide a small grant to help develop the Mexican restaurant. Grants are competitive. New ventures are not qualified only expansion projects of businesses with at least a three year track record in an existing retail location. The Next deadline for considerations is Friday, April 30, 2010 (postmarked). Visit their website for more information about their products and services.
The Girard Coalition, Inc is 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to revitalize the Girard Avenue corridor between I-95 and the Philadelphia Zoo. We partner with neighborhood groups, businesses and political leaders to improve the quality of life in the Girard Avenue community. Our primary focus is business development and attraction. Visit our website for more information.

More on Detroit's Urban Farming Plan - Model for Other Cities?

Detroit seems to be moving forward with plans to demolish huge portions of the city to get rid of areas that are nothing but wastelands. The idea is to move the remaining residents out of the desolate areas of the city into areas that are still viable. The vacant land will then be turned over to Hantz Farms to create a huge urban farm - creating jobs, generating taxes, bringing fresh food to the inner city and creating tourism. This has been getting a lot coverage lately in business magazines as Hantz will be a for profit farm.

Check out a few stories:

Grist Magazine
Fortune Magazine
Fast Company
Hantz Farms Home Page

Great Piece About the Strengths of Philadelphia's Art Scene

For MM Partners' part, we have applied for a grant to build studio space at 2617-19 W Girard. Here's a sample from the article, good quotes from the chief of the NEA, but go read the whole thing.
..."I don't know how many times I've said it in the last few months: 'We've got to look at what they're doing in Philadelphia,' " Landesman told about two dozen arts administrators and city officials at the Crane building in the 1400 block of North American Street... "This seems to me to be really where the creative economy is happening," Landesman said of Philadelphia. "We need to be in places where there's already some real momentum because we want to be successful." ...

2831 W Girard Construction Progress In Photos

Ever wondered what it looked like to install a new set of stairs? It's just 3 easy steps (well, the pros make it look easy, at least).

Sorry, Aaron, But This Does Count Towards Your 15 Minutes of Fame...

This just in: MM Partners very talented Director of Property Management, Aaron Smith, is having a brief moment of Philberity. Check out his only-in-Philadelphia camera phone pic. Link.

Zoning Approval = Coffee? Yep!

Fantastic news this afternoon: Mugshots CoffeeHouse received zoning approval to open at 2831 W Girard Ave! Look for the opening in the spring or early summer. Thanks to everyone who came out to support the application, we can't emphasize our appreciation enough. A special thanks to the good posters at Philadelphia Speaks, who helped spread the word.

USA Is On The Verge Of A Housing Shortage (I kid you not)

According to Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust Advisors, says that if Americans don’t start focusing on building new houses, the market will have a much bigger problem on its hands. In a recent Forbes Magazine article Brian states:
"We need one and a half million houses per year just to keep up with population growth," Wesbury said in an interview with Steve Forbes. "And then if you throw in, you know, fires and tear-downs and just worn-out properties, we need 1.6 million or more per year. Right now, we’re down to about six and a half, seven months’ inventory whether you look at new homes or existing homes."

MM Partners Loves Urban Farming - Brewerytown needs some farms

MM Partners really likes the concept of urban farming and believes its a great use for vacant land for many reasons:
  • better use of vacant land
  • better for storm water run off
  • return tax delinquent properties to tax rolls
  • great way to redevelop fringe neighborhoods where there are an abundance of scary, overgrown lots currently used for short dumping and who knows what else
  • who wouldnt want a farm as a neighbor to look out at?
  • creates local jobs
  • introduce better fresh foods into many neighborhoods
The list could go on and on, but the bottom line is Philadelphia is a great place for urban farming. There are a number people throughout the area already doing it, here a few great links:

Brewerytown is an ideal neighborhood to try this out, we would welcome anyone interested to contact us.

Mural Art Programs' Love Letters Valentines Weekend

MM Partners strongly supports the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and their many amazing programs. We recently turned one of our storefronts over to them to put on an art show featuring local artists. While we are not directly involved in the Love Letters exhibit we think it's amazing and will certainly be at the opening this Friday. Here is a link to coverage on the Cool Hunting blog. Link to Love Letters website.

San Francisco Gets $19 Million For Energy Efficiency

San Francisco just created a $19m program to promote energy efficiency. The program creates funding for energy efficiency programs through the San Francisco Energy Watch program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Great program as it creates jobs while improving energy efficiency which will save money over the long haul.

Full Story at Matternetwork.

Finally! Good Coffee in Brewerytown!

MM Partners is pleased to announce that Mugshot's CoffeeHouse & Cafe is joining the retail renaissance on W. Girard Avenue in Brewerytown. They will be opening their third location in a property of ours located at 2831 W. Girard Avenue. 2831 W. Girard Avenue is a historic building that is currently undergoing a full gut renovation, and is conveniently next door to the West Girard Rita's Water Ice. We are preserving the historic character of the building, while upgrading and modernizing the interiors. The Mugshots space features the original late 1880's vaulted plaster ceiling, restored original wood floors and a large landscaped rear garden for outdoor seating. Above Mugshots will be three one-bedroom units (one bi-level) all with original wood floors, open floor plans, European-style kitchens, washer/dryer’s, dishwashers and ton’s of light. To learn more, please check out the links below: (Michael Klein's Insider blog)
The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog

Retooling Industrial Sites Exhibit

Retooling Industrial Sites Exhibit

Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA

Join us for a First Friday reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibit on February 5 from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

Retooling Industrial Sites showcases the work of over 30 design firms in transforming old industrial sites back to productive use and features inventive examples from Philadelphia and cities across the country. The exhibit is intended as a forum for the growing interest in industrial sites and urban manufacturing and the important role of design in making industry a positive part of urban neighborhoods.

The projects selected for the exhibit represent a diverse mix of built and un-built work from warehouse conversions to brownfield redevelopment to neighborhood master plans which include new factories, office space, schools, housing, interpretive historical sites, and mixed-use development. Also on view, will be a series of Jacob Hellman photographs, featuring vacant Philadelphia factories.

Cool Philadelphia Photographs by Phillybits, Flickr Group

Came across this photographer on Phillyist, very cool stuff. Check out this photo of old Septa trolley cars. Here is a link to the artists Flickr Page - Phillybits. Lots of great philadelphia photos on there.

Investor Pitches Turning Detroit Into a Massive Urban Farm

what a great use for vacant urban land - creates jobs, rids blight, gets fresh food into cities, cuts down on the long distance transport of fresh food....... read the whole story here.

Detroit was once the 4th largest city in America and it held the title of Motor City because most of America’s cars came from there. Flash forward 40 years, and Detroit’s population has dwindled from a high of 2 million people to just over 800,000. The average price for a home in Detroit is $15,000, the lowest in the country. With so many empty spaces, criminals have no shortage of hideouts and drug factories. And with America’s auto industry still reeling from the recession, as well as having outsourced many jobs to other states (or countries), the future looks bleak for Detroit’s long-deferred recovery.

Unless one millionaire gets his way, and turns the city into farms. Yes, farms.

John Hantz is one of the few remaining millionaires in Detroit, where the median family income is under $30,000. And the urban sprawl that Detroit encompasses is larger than Boston, Manhattan, and San Francisco combined. There is a lot of unused land in Detroit. This John Hantz thinking about how to use all of that vacant land. He is pitching a proposal to turn Detroit into a modern farming community. I think he might be on to something.

The 10 must-have features in today's new homes


Paul Cardis, CEO of AVID Ratings Co., which conducts an annual survey of home-buyer preferences, said there are 10 "must" features in new homes:

  1. Large kitchens, with an island. "If you're going to spend design dollars, spend them where people want them -- spend them in the kitchen," McCune said. Granite countertops are a must for move-up buyers and buyers of custom homes, but for others "they are on the bubble," Cardis said.

  2. Energy-efficient appliances, high-efficiency insulation and high window efficiency. Among the "green" features touted in homes, these are the ones buyers value most, he said. While large windows had been a major draw, energy concerns are giving customers pause on those, he said. The use of recycled or synthetic materials is only borderline desirable.

  3. Home office/study. People would much rather have this space rather than, say, a formal dining room. "People are feeling like they can dine out again and so the dining room has become tradable," Cardis said. And the home theater may also be headed for the scrap heap, a casualty of the "shift from boom to correction," Cardis said.

  4. Main-floor master suite. This is a must feature for empty-nesters and certain other buyers, and appears to be getting more popular in general, he said. That could help explain why demand for upstairs laundries is declining after several years of popularity gains.

  5. Outdoor living room. The popularity of outdoor spaces continues to grow, even in Canada, Cardis said. And the idea of an outdoor room is even more popular than an outdoor cooking area, meaning people are willing to spend more time outside.

  6. Ceiling fans.

  7. Master suite soaker tubs. Whirlpools are still desirable for many home buyers, Cardis said, but "they clearly went down a notch," in the latest survey. Oversize showers with seating areas are also moving up in popularity.

  8. Stone and brick exteriors. Stucco and vinyl don't make the cut.

  9. Community landscaping, with walking paths and playgrounds. Forget about golf courses, swimming pools and clubhouses. Buyers in large planned developments prefer hiking among lush greenery.

  10. Two-car garages. A given at all levels; three-car garages, in which the third bay is more often then not used for additional storage and not automobiles, is desirable in the move-up and custom categories, Cardis said.

Mini Model's of Philadelphia Buildings and Landmarks

Saw this on Thrillist today, local company makes small model's of Philadelphia row homes, buildings and other landmarks. Very Cool.