Community is a vital part of human connection. It links those around us and provides a sense of belonging – it’s something to be celebrated. At the 2022 Haddon Avenue Street Festival on September 24, the Parkside neighborhood in Camden, NJ came together to celebrate their own community after a two-year hiatus. Pennoni’s Planning and Urban Design team was honored to help make this event a reality by making their imagined pop-up plaza a reality. The successful pop-up plaza was a result of a months-long planning and design process.

The Pennoni team created the pop-up plaza by bringing street furniture and plaza décor to two adjacent vacant lots lining Haddon Avenue. The plaza provided a popular place for festivalgoers to sit, relax, and eat foods bought from local food truck vendors. The plaza also hosted exciting programming that engaged children and adults alike. A variety of crafts and games included custom Parkside neighborhood-branded arts activities, designed by the Pennoni team, cornhole, giant Jenga, giant checkers, a photo booth, and sidewalk chalk drawing and illustration which helped brighten up Haddon Avenue. Additionally, a trading card game tournament run in partnership with a local games shop helped draw over 40 participants to the plaza.

The goal of the pop-up plaza was to activate a space that was envisioned as a permanent plaza and evaluate its success by constructing a temporary version of what could be possible. PBCIP is redeveloping the building adjacent to the pop-up plaza to be an incubator for local Black-owned business. The future plaza will provide a space for residents to gather, and the pop-up plaza allowed residents to thinking about the space in a new way and were excited for the future plaza to be completed. The Pennoni team provided public space planning and design, programming development, coordination, day-of implementation, and staffing services during the street festival.

Parkside is a historic neighborhood in Camden, NJ. It is home to Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, Campbell’s Soup Company, Cooper Hospital, Farnham Park, the popular Donkey’s Restaurant, and the newly updated Camden High campus, which serves four high schools, an elementary school, and a charter school.

Pennoni has been working with Parkside Business and Community in Partnership (PBCIP), a local community development corporation, for the past several years, to bring vibrancy and equitable development to the Haddon Avenue Corridor. As part of this effort, the Pennoni team developed the Haddon Avenue Implementation Plan, which will guide the future of the corridor for the coming years.

The Haddon Avenue Corridor is the commercial heart of Parkside. Its location, between downtown Camden and the nearby bustling downtown corridor in Collingswood, makes it the perfect place for new businesses to thrive. Its revitalization could bring critical resources and amenities to neighborhood residents, as well as opportunities for locally focused economic growth and employment.

Pennoni’s Planning and Urban Design team continues to work with PBCIP on a variety of projects to positively shape and bring vibrancy to Haddon Avenue and the Parkside neighborhood!