None Too Soon

Finally, and with great anticipation: speeches from the Grasso ground-breaking. 

As we reported earlier, many neighbors in East Falls could hardly believe our eyes when we read Grasso’s announcement for — finally! — the ground-breaking ceremony for his project at the foot of the Falls Bridge. When September 10th rolled around, we couldn’t wait to see things rolling.

The afternoon did not disappoint! Nice big tent, nibbles, goodie bags… About 30, maybe 40 neighbors came out to bear witness and enjoy a really beautiful day by the river. As you can see from the accompanying video, speeches were short and sweet — dare I say informative. For instance, we had no idea that it only took 20 years to be a “real” Fallser! lol (See Curtis’s comments below.)

Public construction rituals like this aren’t usually emotional occasions, but the hopeful optimism this little crowd generated was palpable. While of course there’s no telling how any development might turn out, it’s hard to imagine a project with as much positive energy surrounding it as this one.

These remarks have been edited for clarity/brevity, please see original recording above for exact wording/context. 

DAVID GRASSO (President/co-founder Method Co.)
No one ever thought it would take this long. But here we are. Over 20 years of effort, planning, design, redesign, redesign. This process started with the acquisition of the property by the PRA over 20 years ago. There’s lot to be thankful for, because of the great people at the Development Authority: traffic improvements, increased visibility and usage. Thank you so much for your patience with us.

ANNE FADULLON (Director of Planning & Development, City of Phila Chair of the Board, PRA)
We’re really excited about this development, I think it’s going to be a great asset to East Falls, 140-some new units, some commercial space, all of that within a stone’s throw of the river, the train and the Wissahickon Transportation Center. We’ve got the bike path.

Over the last week, we’ve really learned our lesson that we need to start thinking about how we get to and from work, and how we build our development. And I think this project really will set an example for that.

Finally, I want to thank the community. This has been a long time coming for the residents of East Falls. And you have hung in there with us and been patient. You have told us what you really want to see happen at this site. I think this development team is going to deliver that — and we could not be more excited about this day! We look forward to coming back together several months from now and cutting that ribbon and walking in! Thank you all again for showing up! Stay well. Get vaccinated! Let’s take care of each other.

Mike Murphy, John Hawkins, Curtis Jones, Emily Nichols (l – r)

EMILY NICHOLS  (President, EFCC)
I’m so glad that you stuck with it, that the community stuck with it. And I echo what’s been said: I’m just waiting for the day that we can cut the ribbon and walk in and actually see this finished project. We really appreciate developers who work with the neighbors to build something that the community really wants to see. We’re just thrilled to have this happen!.

HEIDI GRUNWALD (Chair of the Board, EFDC)
The saying goes, Good things come to those who wait. We’ve done our waiting! We are so excited for this place right here to activate this riverfront business district, to support the current businesses – to grow them — and to attract new businesses.  I personally look forward to the day where I can sit on this mezzanine and have coffee and lunch, and then drop my kayak in at the river landing and then come back for dinner!

COUNCILMEMBER CURTIS JONES, JR — Key Note Speaker 
Finally, finally, finally. I’m gonna throw that dirt so far, just to make sure I’m not dreaming that we finally are here.

This community is special – for those of you who have the privilege to call it home. Building here is a good investment because of them. When you walk into a community meeting in East Falls, and it’s full of former managing directors, and former city solicitors, governors, and mayors, you know, you got a tough crowd. But they are a discerning crowd. If they pick you, then you chose wisely and you are lucky for it. These towns on the water, Manayunk, East Falls, Roxborough. They are special places: small towns in the inner cities. They stay that way because of the activism of the residents.

This site, what a difference a week makes. Because a week ago, we wouldn’t have this, we’d be underwater. Mother Nature is undefeated. We must have smart development to withstand her wrath.

And when we come together, when we ask the tough questions, and we get the right answers. Today happens — where everybody is happy, everybody is satisfied. And where we’ll welcome new residents to East Falls. I’ll tell them now: it takes 20 years to be a Fallser. And they count every day you’re here. They say, “Councilman, you’ve been around for 14 years now. “ when you’ve been around 14 years now. Six years, maybe, we’ll put you up for a vote to be a true Fallser.

There are many communities in Philadelphia. There is nothing like East Falls.

You walk across the street and there’s recreation. You walk up a little way, you’re in Manayunk or Ridge Avenue —  you have options, and therefore the quality of life is great. I’m gonna show my age but I actually partied in the Rivage nightclub that used to be on this site. And I remember how wonderful a space it was then, and I look forward to so much now.

Finally, I’m grateful that other than the land there was no city money in this, so those subsidized dollars be used to impact other neighborhoods. Now let’s flip some dirt!

<APPLAUSE>

Congratulations, East Falls!
We’ll be watching this spot at Kelly & Calumet (and Ridge) for a 5-story building with 142 rental units and some ground-floor commercial/retail/public space.

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The Local byline reflects community-created content (usually from social media, often from audio/video sources) that we've collected and edited into an article for our website/newspaper.

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