by Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –  Dozens were on hand at the historic Hawthorne Hall near N. 38th Street and Lancaster Avenue for a ceremonial brick laying to mark the beginning of “Make Your Mark,” a community driven effort to revitalize lower Lancaster Avenue.

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“Think quality schools, think places to play shop and work, think quality and affordable housing both to rent and to own,” says Farah Jimenez, Executive Director of the People’s Emergency Center, which received the grant.

The non-profit will spearhead the neighborhood transformation, which includes better bike lanes, more parks, better business facades and more jobs for West Philadelphia residents.

But to start – PEC says they will renovate the 118-year-old Hawthorne Hall, which is symbolic of the neighborhood around it.

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“We believe its location with close proximity to Drexel, Penn and great transit makes it a catalyst for the revitalization of this avenue to a place with a variety of retail options,” says Kira Strong, Vice President of Community, Real Estate and Economic Development for PEC. “Community members specifically identified this building as an important place in the neighborhood and one they wanted to see rehabilitated.”

The $750,000 grant is part of a 1.5 million in total funding from Wells Fargo Regional Foundation to PEC thus far. The group told the Philadelphia Planning Commission that they must raise more than $59 million in total to fulfill the plan.

For more info on the plan to revitalize Lower Lancaster Avenue, go to

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