The possibilities for economic development on one of the Falls’ original business corridors.
Conrad Street serves East Falls wonderfully and is a valuable part of our neighborhood. We help support it through regular street cleaning and we’ve helped Conrad businesses get outdoor seating, zoning variances, and have provided other assistance with utility companies and the like.
We do receive questions occasionally from business owners and neighbors about development plans along Conrad and if there are other resources available to assist businesses. I’ve responded to a few below:
How can Conrad get more resources?
The best way to add more resources on the street is to pool resources to support the Business Improvement Team and fund our sidewalk cleaning. For only $200, local businesses will get weekly sidewalk cleaning. We are working on this fundraising right now.
There are very limited outside funding resources available to businesses in the City. Businesses on Conrad Street are eligible for the Merchants Fund, and have, in fact, gotten grants from the Fund.
The City of Philadelphia has a Storefront Improvement Program and they set the parameters for where they fund. They decided to fund the Riverfront Business District. This is the only resource that is available to the RBD and, unfortunately, isn’t available to Conrad Street. However, all other resources are available throughout the neighborhood.
Is there a plan for bringing more business to Conrad? Has it been studied in the past? If so, what conclusions were made? Does planning for a business corridor there (even a secondary one) make sense any more or is it impractical?
Yes, the EFDC plan is to bring more businesses to East Falls to benefit local residents. We hired a retail recruiter, and I talk with potential business and listing properties available. We have shown Conrad Street and direct people to it.
Whenever a new business looks to come into East Falls, we give them addresses based on what they are looking for and always refer businesses to Conrad Street if the business owner’s needs fits any vacancies there.
The main planning that has been done for East Falls has been along Ridge Avenue where there were large vacant parcels of land. Conrad Street, on the other hand, doesn’t call for overall planning because of the limited number of vacancies.
Businesses gravitate towards Conrad Street. It is part of our town – bookended by the Falls of Schuylkill Library and Mifflin School, our local public elementary school, on the one end, and Murphy’s Irish Saloon and Cranky Joe’s bar, on the other.
In between are businesses that serve the needs for nearby residents: Petrone Real Estate, the laundromat, The Artist Haus salon, East Falls Chiropractic, Epicure Café, East Falls Pharmacy, and some great eateries, including Apollo’s Pizza and Laxmi’s Indian Grill.
What are the challenges of opening businesses on Conrad? Is there a type of business that would do well there? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Conrad from a business development perspective?
Conrad Street makes the neighborhood more walkable and provides the things that people need. Personal services work on a secondary commercial corridor like Conrad. Places that are destinations in and of themselves work on a street that does not have through traffic.
In contrast, the East Falls River Business District, serves both residents and people coming through the neighborhood on the arterial streets and the Schuylkill River Trail. The RBD has higher traffic and businesses that serve the traffic, such as gas stations, national drug store chain, and auto repair. The eateries have developed regional appeal.
Between the RBD and Conrad Street, residents get a lot of what they need. We still have to go out for groceries, big box retailers, and fast food, but for the smaller things in life, we can get what we need.
The EFDC is always talking with potential businesses about coming to the neighborhood. As we grow and change, we hope to get new businesses to come here and serve the wonderful people in our neighborhood.