The Philadelphia Department of Commerce and the Community Design Collaborative created the Storefront Challenge as part of an ongoing partnership to demonstrate that good design is good business. Every two years, Commerce and the Collaborative invite business owners, customers, neighbors, designers, contractors, corridor managers, community organizations, and property owners to nominate the best storefront façade improvement projects throughout the city. In 2016, they nominated 75 businesses throughout the city.
The finalists and winners in the Challenge were then selected by a jury of economic development, retail, and design experts and announced during DesignPhiladelphia at an awards celebration featuring remarks by Mayor Jim Kenney and Philadelphia Department of Commerce Director Harold T. Epps.
Mayor Kenney drew upon his own experience reviving East Passyunk Avenue. “Every corridor will have its own cultural flair… Corridor and storefront investment pushes out into the neighborhoods surrounding them. If you have a solid business district, you’re going to know your neighborhoods, have fun, have that neighborhood feeling.”
"If you have a solid business district, you’re going to know your neighborhoods, have fun, have that neighborhood feeling."—Mayor Jim Kenney
Harold T. Epps advised, “Get out of your part of the city and see other corridors… there are lots of good things happening!” Citing a Philadelphia Department of Commerce impact study on façade improvements, he added, “There are good things happening, but there is more work to do… We need neighborhoods to take advantage of our programs. We need to recruit others to participate so we can continue to raise real estate values and encourage people to live and work in our neighborhoods.”
During the celebration, Councilman Bobby Henon was also recognized with the Corridor Catalyst Award for leadership in promoting neighborhood commercial corridors. Philip Green and Stephanie Michel of the North 5th Street Revitalization Project received the Instigator Award for leadership in inspiring businesses to make storefront facade improvements.
The finalists and winners reflect the diversity of the city’s businesses and show the impact of grants that support storefront facade improvement projects from the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, The Merchants Fund, and others. See before-and-after photos of all the storefront facades we recognized this year.