The nascent Germantown United CDC hired its first staff member and appointed a new president to its Board of Directors. The Board decided that the CDC needed a part-time staff member to expand its presence. Andy Trackman, who at the time served as board president, was named executive director at the beginning of February. Garlen Capita, an associate urban designer at Wallace, Roberts, and Todd, replaced Trackman as the new board president.
Trackman and Capita are overseeing the CDC during an interesting time for Germantown. The future of Germantown High School, which closed last year, is a big topic of conversation in the community. Germantown United’s vice president, Julie Stapleton Carroll, is trying to form a task force with local state Representative Stephen Kinsey (D- Phila) to decide what to do with the antiquated building.
To build upon Germantown’s commercial corridors, the CDC is also helping businesses take advantage of forgivable loans and grants from Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce. Gtown Sports on the Germantown Avenue commercial corridor, for example, was awarded an InStore Program forgivable loan to little fanfare towards the end of 2013. Gtown Sports was in danger of losing its contract to sell Nike apparel because of the condition of the store’s interior, according to Trackman. This loan enabled the store to continue selling Nike gear.
Little Jimmie’s Coffee Roasters, which is coming soon to Germantown’s resurgent Maplewood Mall, is currently applying for an InStore program loan and a Storefront Improvement Program (SIP) grant from the Commerce Department. The Coffee Roasters will be an off-shoot of Little Jimmie’s Bakery and Cafe in Mt. Airy. If Little Jimmie’s is approved for a SIP grant, it can receive up to $8,000 for exterior storefront improvements.
The new leadership at GUCDC is also hard at work organizing its annual forum, slated for the end of April. The topic of the forum will be on what Trackman calls the “gentrification conundrum,” and how to balance making a neighborhood safer and more appealing with keeping it affordable for long-term residents. Trackman envisions the forum being an all-day affair, with both speakers and interactive workshops.
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