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January 7, 2010

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We continue our look at the top stories of 2009

(Clockwise from top left) Chestnut Hill College planned a new campus for Sugarloaf. The Fall for the Arts Festival attracted a record crowd. Fire destroyed the historic Garrett-Dunn house. The closing of borders promises to pose the first big issue for the Hill in 2010.

JULY

New committee formed to study Avenue vacancies

Directors of the Chestnut Hill Business Association and the Chestnut Hill Community Association agreed last week to establish a joint committee to study more than 30 vacant commercial properties along Germantown Avenue and try to find ways to fill them with tenants.



Essay The biggest story in Chestnut Hill: Zoning

Zoning disputes are not new to Chestnut Hill. In fact, the Chestnut Hill Community Association was essentially founded to prevent the grounds of the old Mower Hospital – a parcel that now contains Chestnut Hill Village and its adjacent shopping center – from becoming the new home of Temple University in the ‘50s.

Since that time, Chestnut Hill has had frequent zoning disputes that seem to pit the same interests against each other, over and over again. Residential interests find themselves encroached by business interests. Preservation tries to fend off progress.  Of course, this is not a Hill phenomenon. These conflicts occur in nearly every community, but they certainly hit a level of acrimony in this Zip Code that is, well, um, let’s say, uncommon.



Essay: Signs of life on the Avenue

This year was unique for Chestnut Hill in many ways when it came to Germantown Avenue. Not unique in a first-ever kind of way, and I’m sure much of what transpired up and down the Avenue has happened before. But 2009 represented a departure from the status quo for many of the businesses along the Avenue as well as the general culture of the business community.

Spurred by a terrible economy and beleaguered by years of discord, the business community began pulling together in 2009, even as store after store closed. Perhaps it was the sobering reality of the demise of Caruso’s. Hurt by the lagging economy, the small grocer’s sales were certainly failing well before John Capoferri bought the business, but it was Capoferri’s dubious financial maneuvering that undid what seemed like the last of the Chestnut Hill institutions.



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