Another Philadelphia Developer Tries to Rebrand a Whole Neighborhood

It turns out that locals don't like self-interested, unilateral decisions that erase the place names of the past.
October 11, 2017, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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A section of North Philadelphia known to many as Norris Square was recently subjected to a rebranding campaign that dubbed the neighborhood "Stonewall Heights." Stonewall Heights, the rebranding campaign decided, was a "modern historical district."

As Samantha Melamed reports, many in the neighborhood were not happy about the change, which was rendered public by signs hanging from utility poles and real estate listings touting Stonewall Heights' "rapidly developing" status. As it turns out, the Stonewall Heights campaign is the brainchild of Paul Janaitis, owner of "a small real-estate development company called Stonewall Contracting" and "for the past four months, [publisher of] a newspaper called the Stonewall Heights Review."

Janaitis is not the first developer to attempt a rebrand of an entire neighborhood—in Philadelphia or in other cities in the United States. Melamed cites several examples:

Craig Grossman’s Arts & Crafts Holdings has been diligently working to transform Callowhill into Spring Arts; the late Tony Goldman spent years recasting the Gayborhood as Midtown Village; and developer John Longacre has never tried to conceal the fact that, years ago for marketing purposes, he began describing a section of Point Breeze as Newbold.

Still, Janaitis was original in his use of the "illegal bandit signs," and it's unclear what the repercussions, if any, will be for his actions. 

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Published on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 in The Philadelphia Inquirer
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