A century-old building at the heart of the Ridge Avenue commercial corridor will be preserved and renovated next year, and a new adjacent parklet will add some green to the neighborhood.

 The Allison Building, erected around 1910 and named for a landowner from the late 18th century, had been occupied by Koszowski's Carpet Gallery for 38 years.

The Italianate brick building at 6168 Ridge Ave. has two apartments above it that will remain part of the redeveloped mixed-use property.

Visions for future site

The Roxborough Development Corporation plans to bring something new and attractive to the mix of businesses along the avenue.

"It will not be a pizza parlor or a hair salon. We already have enough of those," said RDC executive director Bernard Guet.

"One thought was to have a sit-down restaurant that would bring the evening economy to Ridge Avenue – possibly a BYOB that would cater to the local residents," Guet continued. "Or, if somebody selling pastries wanted to open a business and it's good for Ridge Avenue, we'll do that. We're looking for something that we don't have on the avenue. We want to encourage people to shop locally, not at the malls."

Other RDC rehab projects resulted in the Foodery at 6148 Ridge Ave. and the Crossroads Coffee House at 6156 Ridge Ave.

Maps and old photos of the site at 6168 Ridge Ave. show a trio of three-story buildings of similar characteristics on the block. In the 1950s, a fire gutted two of the buildings. The city razed what remained of them, and added a blacktop connecting Ridge to the Leverington Avenue parking area behind the site.

Open-space planning

The asphalt-covered vacant lot will be transformed into the Leverington Gathering Place, which will bring a little open space to the shopping area, Guet said.

With a couple of designs in mind for the parklet, the RDC is working with the Philadelphia Water Department to incorporate a stormwater-management project into the landscape.

"We hope to involve students from Roxborough High School and AMY Northwest Middle School" to help maintain the park and add to their green curriculum through rain-barrel workshops and other environmental projects at the site, Guet said.

The RDC plans to have the first floor of the Allison Building renovated and ready for a new tenant by the summer. The two apartments above, which feature large bay windows, will be upgraded and available next year as well.

The parklet project will be completed after the building renovations, although trees may be added to the site as early as the spring.

"This will be a green spot where people can go buy a sandwich and sit and read a newspaper," Guet said. "A year down the road, perhaps we will have some musical programs and small events. I think it will be a very nice addition right smack in the middle of the central corridor."

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