It is with great joy that we announce the Grand Opening of the new grocery for the Kensington Community Food Co-Op (KCFC). A project that began (for us) in 2013 as a feasibility study, the opening of this store represents a major milestone in the effort to bring healthy, local food options to one of Philadelphia’s most deserving communities.
The building in which the project is housed was acquired after years of abandonment. Despite a checkered past, the design team and ownership team both saw great opportunity in its close proximity to burgeoning neighborhoods and areas in need of healthy, local food options. The desire to bridge both lead to a colorful exterior cladding solution that seeks to use the vibrancy, color, and cultural significance of bodegas along Kensington Avenue as inspiration. To help minimize cost impact for this visually complex solution, the design team relied on the DIY attitude of the Co-Op’s members to engage the community to participate in the execution of the building’s skin. Community members were invited to literally have a hand in the building of the new facility by painting the cladding together before the contractor installed it.
Additionally, this site had unique features and challenging constraints that were seen as opportunities to help define the project and reinforce the program. For instance, the property comes with a liquor license that will necessitate the inclusion of a cafe or bar. This is unique to Philadelphia and Pennsylvania which, by law, requires the Bar to be in a separate space. Instead of creating two separate tenant spaces for the Coop, we see the Café and Market as equally important components that generate revenue but also serve as the connection or threshold that helps to reinforce the bond with its members as well as the community at large. The Market and Café become a place to shop, gather, talk, and simply reconnect. This location and program offer the opportunity for this Market to become a center for the neighborhood, not simply just another business within it.
A heartfelt ‘congratulations’ to the many, many people involved in making this project a reality!