In 1995, members of East Falls’ civic and business organizations established the East Falls Development Corporation (EFDC) as a not for profit 501c-3 entity dedicated to “Community based development for the benefit of East Falls”. Spurred by a $50,000 grant from our then-State Rep, Rosita Youngblood to renovate one of East Falls’ historic buildings for community use, EFDC’s vision “to revitalize the riverfront business district” emerged.
Renovation of the long-vacant and rapidly deteriorating “Bathey House”, formerly the locker rooms for East Falls’ public swimming pool, (now the Trolley Car Cafe), became the focus of EFDC’s work. However, early estimates revealed that the initial grant was barely enough to stabilize the building while sufficient funds were raised to adapt it for community use. EFDC was advised by project managers from PA’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) that grants were more likely to be awarded when there was a Community Plan in place to inform future revitalization efforts. Hence, EFDC obtained approval to spend its original $50,000 grant to commission a 25-year Master Plan.
Riverfront Master Plan
The East Falls Riverfront Master Plan (1998) was based on input collected at several community “charrettes”. It provided three distinct scenarios for revitalizing our Commercial District, but there was no clear consensus as to which scheme…Festival Market Place, Main Street, or Gold Coast…would best serve East Falls’ diverse neighborhood. However, the Plan provided a redevelopment strategy, laid out in 6 phases, with recommendations for a variety of Community, City and Public/Private projects that could be implemented over time.