Somebody once described Philadelphia's potential to Deputy Mayor Rich Negrin as "if New York and Portland, Ore. had a baby," he said.
"Smaller, a little edgy, right," he said. "We go to work, but we got a tattoo."
In Kensington, the North Philadelphia neighborhood that for years has been overrun with drugs, prostitution and bloodshed, Negrin sees change in its infancy. "Kensington is one of those neighborhoods that really has the opportunity over the next 5 to 10 years – it's not going to happen overnight – to be one of those up and coming, Northern Liberties-types," he said.
He envisions the young newcomers and long-term residents partnering to reshape the neighborhood and bring about a renaissance. The city has been pushing this new business model of the creative arts economic engine. It has worked in Fishtown and Northern Liberties.
"I think the industrial days in Philly are gone," Negrin said. "I think this is the new economy. I think we're talking about service-sector jobs. I'd love to see an influx of restaurants on that business corridor."
The influx of young people, he said, is incredibly important.
"What you are going to have with a neighborhood that's starting to change - you've got cheap real estate," he said. "If you can get a home at an incredibly cheap price, whether you're renting it or building it out as a family. … I think it's got some real potential."
"Today you are seeing different things, you're seeing family's walking around, you're seeing positive activity in the evening, you're seeing people utilize those parks in a way that they were meant to be utilized, kids playing," he said, "that's different and we hope to keep it that way."
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