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More Than Just A Fence, It’s A Neighborhood Gathering Point For Fishtown

(Antique dealer Catherine Jennings shows how merchandise can be displayed along the new "interactive" fence on East Girard Avenue.  Credit: Cherri Gregg)

(Antique dealer Catherine Jennings shows how merchandise can be displayed along the new “interactive” fence on East Girard Avenue. Credit: Cherri Gregg)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Community investment along East Girard Avenue in Fishtown is shining a ray of hope on small businesses in the area.

And it’s sure to stop traffic — in a good way.

A new “interactive” fence has been installed near East Girard and Marlborough Streets, part of a low-cost, high impact Model Block Program.

With light-colored wooden slats, the fence has built-in shelves that can be used to sit on or hold merchandise.

“We’re going to use it for sidewalk sales, inpromptu farmer’s market-type things, hopefully having some food truck events on first Fridays,” says Angie Williamson of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.

Catherine Jennings (top photo) owns Keys to the Attic, a vintage furniture store.  “A year ago, I was really the only business on the block,” she recalls.

She says the storefront improvements, also included in the investment, are helping to attract traffic to the corridor.

“It’s driven more business to my store and it’s also enticed other businesses to open on our block,” she said today.

The improvements are the result of a $98,000 grant from PNC Bank.  The monies have sparked investment in both Fishtown and in West Philadelphia.

“Small business is the engine for our economy,” says Terri Copeland, PNC vice presdient of community investment. “We feel that if we find the right infrastructure even in one block, we can provide stimulus for business.”

Copeland says other businesses, including a spa, are expected to open in the area.  She says the goal of the community investment is to encourage more businesses to open and drive more commercial traffic.