Heritage preservationists have for a very long time been sent to the irrelevance “time-out” corner by many who unfairly claim that they (we, full disclosure) are focused entirely on pretty buildings and not on cold, hard reality. But old buildings and existing neighborhoods fans really know, as does everyone involved in real estate, planning, architecture and other real world pursuits, that “use,” “use” and “use” are the three most important words in our language.
Philadelphia entrepreneurs Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney know all about using existing buildings, and their neighbors in Center City’s Midtown Village have enjoyed the benefits of the reborn street life the pair have helped foster. Earlier this week, the AIA Philadelphia Chapter, along with the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, saluted their remarkable love for and commitment to urban life in the heart of Philadelphia. The AIA, at the Alliance’s annual Awards lunch, lauded the partners with the annual Henry J Magaziner, EFAIA Award, which recognizes those who, though outside the “normal circle of preservation and design, have made a significant contribution to preservation of the built environment.” The duo’s three restaurants (Barbuzzo, Lolita and Bindi) and four shops (Open House, Grocery, Verde and Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates) near 13th and Sansom, reside in older buildings saved and rehabilitated over the past decade by developer Tony Goldman and have joined several other long-standing businesses in the vicinity in turning around what was once considered a “red light district.”
Congratulations to the pair, who even live above the store. (How else could two people manage such an empire?) Val and Marcie have made our neighborhood more lively, safer, more interesting and, well, more delicious. (All their ventures are great, but @Barbuzzo, already a James Beard award winner, is not be missed.) Thanks to them and their unflagging energy and creativity. Philadelphia is much the richer for their commitment. So is the salted caramel budino!