Thursday, October 28, 2021

CCRA Newsletter

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This Week: October 28, 2021

Editor - Barbara Halpern

Lead Writer - Richard Vaughn

Design/Layout and Writer - Travis Oliver

Guest Writer - Bonnie Eisenfeld

Guest Writer - David Rose

What’s Your Reboot?

There’s a saying in politics that goes something like “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. Pretty cynical, we admit. But at the same time, there’s some reasonable truth to it.

Think about it: in the past 20 months, Center City has been buffeted by the Covid-19 pandemic, by rioting, and most recently by Hurricane Ida’s flooding and tornadoes.

That’s a lot and, if things happen in 3’s, then maybe we’re done for a while.

But in any event, let’s not let these ‘crises’ go to waste. Time for a re-think, time for a reboot. What’s really important now? What’s the “right thing”? What to do?

For our part? We’d jettison Ben Simmons and reboot the Sixers. But what’s your part? What’s your reboot? We’d like to know.

CCRA News and Events




When Stephen Starr announced plans for a sports-themed restaurant at the Boyd Theater location on the 1900 block of Chestnut St., CCRA President Rick Gross created a Stakeholders Group to address the many concerns voiced by local organizations and individuals. The Stakeholders Group has recently announced that it has reached an agreement with the Starr organization regarding these issues of local concern.


When the Starr organization, called “Bankroll”, announced that it had signed a lease for the former Boyd theater space and the adjacent Gap outlet in the 1900 block of Chestnut Street, residents and others throughout the CCRA neighborhood expressed concerns about the operations. The proposed project is a sports-themed restaurant, incorporating many of the Art Deco elements which were preserved from the Boyd in a handsome and sophisticated space.


There will be TV screens throughout to allow patrons to use a specially-designed app to win prizes based on real-time developments in a variety of games. The app is optional and patrons may just enjoy their meal without participating. 

Nevertheless, there were fears that the project would lead to gaming at the site, that congestion would snarl an already clogged Chestnut Street, that large crowds would be noisy and raucous and negatively impact nearby residents.

The Stakeholders Group explored those concerns with an eye toward identifying possible solutions.  Charles Robin, owner of Robin Apartments with many adjacent buildings was selected to chair the group, and board members from several adjacent residences were appointed as well. In addition, people from beyond the immediate vicinity were added to the group to assure a diversity of views. This approach had been used most successfully in the past to negotiate with the developers of the Harper and the Laurel to assure that neighborhood concerns were accommodated in their plans. The Stakeholders believe they have likewise arrived at a very beneficial agreement for near neighbors and beyond.

To respond to concerns about the possibility of gaming, the agreement provides for a recorded covenant on the property, running with the land, which forbids gaming of any kind in perpetuity, even if it were somehow to be legal in the future. To respond to concerns about quality-of-life issues, Bankroll has agreed to:

  • extensive security provisions,
  • an off-duty police presence,
  • noise and crowd restrictions,
  • maintaining traffic flow with a full-time staff dedicated to that purpose. 

No outdoor dining or drinking will be permitted. Outdoor lighting is strictly regulated and green elements are required in the outdoor design. Finally, in the event that a Bankroll patron causes damage to any nearby property, the company will indemnify its owners up to $50,000 per incident.

In describing the agreement, Charles Robin said: “We are very pleased with this agreement. For the first time ever, a major tenant proposing a new use is offering to enter into a binding agreement with Stakeholders and CCRA to alleviate neighborhood concerns on quality-of-life issues. I feel that Bankroll listened to those concerns and responded positively. I am optimistic that they will be a good addition to a previously blighted stretch of Chestnut Street.”

The proposed restaurant requires a special exception under the Zoning Code. A hearing before the CCRA Zoning Committee was held on September 28thwhere the CCRA Zoning Committee voted not to oppose (with standard restaurant conditions) the special exception by a substantial margin. A video of the Bankroll presentation to the Zoning Committee is available here

The proposed agreement may be accessed by following this link. It will be considered by the CCRA Board at its meeting on November 9th. Comments are welcome and can be sent to

Election Day is Tuesday: Not Sure Where to Vote?

For those not certain where to vote this Tuesday, Pennsylvania Voter Services provides the following link here. Simply plug in your address info and click “Search”.

Side Note to those who normally vote at Markward: Due to the hurricane you are likely voting at Trinity Memorial Church at 2212 Spruce, but please use the Voter Services tool to verify.

If SEPTA Goes on Strike…..

At press time it was possible that SEPTA workers could go on strike Monday, Nov. 1. What would that mean? Answers here.

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Down and Out in Rittenhouse with Nick Nolte

CCRA photographer Ben Zuckerman snapped some pix during a Rittenhouse film shoot starring Nick Nolte. Details and more here.

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Merchant Partner of the Week

Every week we spotlight a member of the CCRA Merchant Partner ‘Deals & Discount’ Program, which helps local Mom and Pop businesses get back on their post-pandemic feet by providing complimentary valuable advertising and exposure by encouraging support from CCRA’s highly-engaged (and growing) membership. This week we feature local chill spot Good Karma Café.

No Dogma at Good Karma


Need to relax? Need to mellow out? Need to chill?

No need to head off to a tropical isle (not that there’s anything wrong with that….).


Just take your troubles over to the Good Karma Café at 22d and Pine, where the fine folks there provide food, drink, and a totally laid-back vibe (even when it’s crowded, which is often, and for good reason).


Good Karma ticks all the boxes: unique food and drink, friendly service, indoor/outdoor, seasonal fare (think pumpkin chai latte), eco-friendly, dog-friendly, vegan/vegetarian (vegan scones!), great playlists, fast and free WiFi.


With four locations around town, how can you lose? Only by not taking advantage of the 5% CCRA member discount at the 22d and Pine location.

Clean, Safe, and Green

Talkin' Trash

Last week, WHYY hosted TrashTalk -Working toward a clean Philadelphia! The conversation focused on panelists: Meir Rinde, Terrill Haigler, Matthew George, Shari Hersh, and Kyle Lewisdove discussing the work being done in the city to clean streets and reduce illegal dumping.  Learn more here.

LOVE YOUR PARK? You betcha! 

Park some love on November 13th at one of our three local parks, where a little TLC (trees, leaves, and cleanup) will carry them until the blooms of spring. Volunteer to lend a hand at Friends of Fitler Square Park, Schuylkill River Park, or the June 5th Memorial Park.

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Down North Pizza Fights Recidivism Head-On

If the name “Down North Pizza” rings a bell, it may be because the Strawberry Mansion pizza parlor was named one of the 50 best restaurants in the country, or that it made Bon Appetit's “Heads of the Table” list.

Or maybe you’ve heard of it because of its mission: to fight recidivism by staffing the operation with only formerly incarcerated people. Either way, it’s a remarkable story, and you can read about it here.

Digital Divide: Broadband Access Up 20% from 2019

Two years ago roughly 70% of Philadelphia households had access to High-speed broadband internet. Now that number stands at 84%, due largely to the City’s PHLConnectED program, Comcast’s Internet Essentials, and the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit. Details here.

Useful links

Community News and Events


Mischief at the Mütter is back!, 19 S. 22nd St.

On October 29th, explore the Museum with festive disguises, but don’t be shocked if the Mütter holds a few scary surprises. Register now, if you are brave and enjoy special performances, dancing, and even contact from beyond the grave.  Learn more here.


Spooky Mini Golf at Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th St

Play if you dare! Embrace spooky fun when Center City’s only miniature golf course transforms into Spooky Mini Golf, from 6 to 10 p.m. Now through October 31. Learn more here.


Halloween Weekend with the Museum

The Museum of the American Revolution invites you and your family to Halloween Weekend, Sat, Oct. 30, and Sun, Oct. 31- featuring themed activities onsite and online. A discount of $2 off admission for kids who come in costume, onsite, walk-up tickets only. (Face masks in addition to costume masks are required for ages 5 and up.)


Boo at the Zoo, 3400 Girard Ave.

The Philadelphia Zoo transforms into a seasonal wildlife wonderland for Boo at the Zoo. Kids can wear their costumes to greet animals, get their photo snapped, and grab candy at stations set up throughout the attraction. Oct 29 - 31.

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Get your scare on at the Fright Factory in South Philly, 2200 Swanson St.

Inside a 120-year-old factory in South Philadelphia, the Fright Factory summons screams galore. Within the attraction, guests set out to explore 25,000 square feet of high-scream, high-startle environments across three separate areas in the dark factory basement. Adults only. Now through Oct. 31.

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Trinity Memorial Church needs donations to help with Free Food Bag Program

Trinity Memorial Church at 22nd & Spruce Street is distributing two free bags of groceries per household to anyone who is having food insecurity. No questions asked; advance reservations required. This food distribution program is accessible to neighborhood residents who do not have cars, and it has been a lifeline to seniors, families, children, and laid-off and unemployed workers. Groceries are distributed in the afternoon on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. For people who are unable to pick up at Trinity due to a disability or illness, volunteers will try to deliver. Trinity gets donated groceries from a hub in Northeast Philadelphia. Financial donations are needed to purchase supplemental food such as eggs and fresh produce and to pay for drivers.

Make a Donation. For all donations, please note TMC Food Bag Program. If you need information, please email Susan Weinman: 

Merchant Partners "Deals and Discounts" Program

Would you please support our local merchants and save money too? These local merchants will provide a deal or discount to any member who shows a current CCRA membership card and personal identification.

Liberty Pet Vets, 265 S. 20th St (888-458-8587

Mlkmn, - Use code CCRAMlkmn to receive free membership

Nature's Gallery Florist, 2124 Walnut St (215-563-5554)

Photo Lounge, 130 S.17th St. (267-322-6651)

Rittenhouse Hardware, 2001 Pine St. (215-735-6311)

Seafood Unlimited, 270 S. 20th St (215-732-3663)

The Bake Shop on 20th, 269 S. 20th St. (215-644-9714)

Ursula Hobson Fine Art Framing, 1528 Waverly St (215-546-7889)

Veda Modern Indian Bistro, 1920 Chestnut St, (267-519-2001)

William Schwartz Jewelry, 1831 Chestnut St (215-665-8115)

Alimentari Restaurant at Di Bruno Bros., 1730 Chestnut St, 2nd Floor

Astral Artists - Use promo code "CCRA" to receive a $10 flat rate on all tickets to their virtual concerts.

Blue Sole Shoes, 1805 Chestnut St, (215-496-9244)

Branzino Italian BYOB, 261 S. 17th St (215-790-0103)

Di Bruno Bros., 1730 Chestnut St. (215-665-9220)

Dom's Shoe Repair, 203 S. 20th St (215-972-0098)

Excursions from the Square (215-732-8487, 215-738-4500)

Eye Candy Vision, 218 S. 20th St (215-568-3937)

Frameworks Studio and Gallery, 2103 Walnut St, (215-567-6800)

Good Karma Cafe, 331 S. 22nd St, (215-546-1479)

Koresh Dance Company, 2002 Rittenhouse Sq St. (267-687-1769)

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Center City Residents' Association | 1900 Market St, FL 8, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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