Could we be witnessing the birth of a new demographic? Could we maybe not? A short while ago, a South Philadelphia garage-owner, while searching for either "Yuppie" or "Hipster," accidentally coined the new moniker "Huppies" when describing the hordes of young people who have moved to the newly-minted 'Greater Center City' area that now extends down to Tasker Street to the south. But with news that the Philadelphia Housing Authority is primed to acquire through eminent domain more than 1,300 properties in the North Philly area of Sharswood, it seems yet another moniker has entered the ring. Per Bruce Webb, owner of a record and cassette store on Ridge Avenue, the new hope for the 'hood may lie in the hands of the "Yippies."
In a move that Kelvin Jeremiah, the PHA's president is calling "the single most important redevelopment in the city," the proposed acquisition (using federal and local money) would mark the beginning of a new life for the now-decrepit neighborhood. Jeremiah has "has visions of a business district - complete with a supermarket, small shops, chain stores, and jobs." In a show of confidence, the agency even aims to move its own headquarters there.
But, although the area is only a hair North of the newly-extended boundaries of "Greater Center City," business owners such as Webb remain skeptical of the agency's ability to turn the entire neighborhood around, even with the promise of an onslaught of new commercial and residential activity.
"Until it happens," said Alex Chung, an employee at Vince Beverage on Ridge, "we're not holding our breath." But Bruce Webb, from his perch at the northern-most boundary of 'Greater Center City,' predicts that "yippies" - his shorthand for yuppies and hippies - will populate Ridge with their "boutiques." A new term, perhaps, but one that encapsulates the fear that revitalization can (as it often does) drive away a significant percentage of the neighborhood's population. And here is where the delicate dance between gentrification and urban renewal begins.
· On Ridge Avenue progress would go by the initials PHA [Philly.com]
· 'Greater Center City?' These Guys Don't Think So [Curbed Philly]