The NKCDC Open Space Management Program was created in 1996 in response to residents’ concerns about the negative impact vacant land has on their community. The Open Space Management Program addresses these concerns by helping residents clean, green, and maintain abandoned lots, by helping them acquire sideyard additions to their homes, and by planning for the redevelopment of vacant lots within NKCDC’s service area.

Since the program’s beginning, more than 300 parcels of land have been cleaned and greened, 156 lots have been brought into the sideyard program, and 15 trash-strewn vacant lots have been transformed into community gardens.

In 1997, the southeast corner of Frankford Avenue and Berks Street was transformed from a trash-strewn, abandoned lot into the plant-filled oasis known as the New Kensington Community Garden Center.

The Garden Center was built in only six weeks by NKCDC staff, local residents, staff of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green Program, and AmeriCorps members from the National Community and Conservation Corps. It was designed by the Community Design Collaborative, NKCDC staff, and local residents.

The Garden Center now stands not only as a major accomplishment of NKCDC’s Open Space Management Program, but also as a symbol of what people can achieve by working together.