In 1995, members of East Falls’ civic and business organizations established the East Falls Development Corporation (EFDC) as a not for profit 501c3 entity dedicated to community based economic 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 (and now Boutique River Falls, following years as beloved neighborhood staple Trolley Car Cafe) – became the focus of EFDC’s work. However, early estimates revealed that an initial grant to support this work was barely enough to stabilize the building let alone adapt it for community use. EFDC was advised by project managers from our generous funder and partner, PA’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), that grants were more likely to be awarded with 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,” or visioning sessions. That feedback 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 final Plan provided a redevelopment strategy, laid out in six phases, with recommendations for a variety of community, City and public / private projects that could be implemented over time.