Historic designation adds momentum to Philadelphia’s Tacony revitalization

All the right signs seem to be there: The first bakery in the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 15 years recently opened.

The old Carnegie Library is being preserved and expanded with a modern addition. A group of neighbors banded together to rehab and sell an old house.

And a couple from New York City has bought the grand bank building, with plans to live there and open a recording studio.

For all intents and purposes, Tacony is making a comeback. And the neighborhood is working to ensure history is a part of its future.

The latest good news for the Northeast Philadelphia community is its nomination to become a National Register Historic District, which was unanimously approved in February by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. By this summer, the Tacony-Disston Community Development District is expected to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s an honorific thing more than anything else. It’s not like you’re going to snap your fingers and it’s going to cure everything in the neighborhood,” said Louis Iatarola, Jr., a board member of the Historical Society of Tacony, which began the discussion back in 2002 that led to the nomination. “We’ve been waiting for things to happen, and they finally are.”

Iatarola, a real estate appraiser and longtime resident and booster of Tacony, believes that the community’s listing on the National Register will help develop its contemporary identity and appeal to new investors and potential residents.

We thought that by promoting our industrial history we can carve out a unique niche as a neighborhood that still has good access to Center City, to New Jersey, and to the suburbs,” he said.

The momentum has been building. Store facades are being renovated along the primary commercial corridor, Torresdale Avenue, through Storefront Improvement Program grants from the Commerce Department, and business occupancy has increased, Iatarola said. “It’s looked better than it has in some time.

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