Lowe's brings rebirth of neighborhood

January 16, 2008 4:20:56 PM PST
A Lowe's store is opening up as part of a huge retail center in West Philadelphia.An upbeat day for the new Lowe's home improvement center on 52nd and Jefferson is a milestone day for the community that surrounds it.

"It means convenience for one, to be able to shop in your own neighborhood. I think beyond that it gives you a sense of value; it gives your community a sense of value," Reverend Ellis Washington said.

Lowe's opens Friday as the anchor store of the 50-million dollar retail center that will house businesses like Wachovia, McDonald's, Ashley Stewart and, at long last, a grocery store, Shoprite.

"The whole community is excited that we finally have a supermarket that we have wanted for years," Lucinda Hudson of West Parkside said.

The economic impact of the Park West Town Center will likely be far reaching. The center will bring 800 permanent jobs, and is expected to generate millions of dollars in the local economy.

"I for one, never thought I would be here long enough to see something like this come to pass. There's life, there's vitality here, there's hope here where there was no hope," Callalily Cousar of East Parkside said.

It's taken ten years to bring the Park West Town Center to life in a federal empowerment zone. The landowners vow to reinvest 30% of their profits from the shopping center back into the community. 46 families that moved to make way for the development have relocated in rehabilitated neighborhood properties that have rental income. Already, more small businesses are coming to West Parkside.

"They see it as a viable community; they see it as a destination. They see now the beauty of this area that people lost for years and years and years. It means a real rebirth of this area," Marjorie Ogilvie of Philadelphia Business and Technology.

Construction continues on other retail stores and the supermarket which are expected to open in the spring.