A study conducted in 2011 pointed to the importance of coffee shops in gentrifying American neighborhoods. From the art on the walls, to the caffeine-fueled conversations, to the business of selling coffee — a neighborhood’s culture can be strengthened and fueled by coffees shops.

For example, consider Fishtown in Philadelphia. In the last few years, this gentrified section of the city has seen the opening of numerous sit-in caffeine hubs, and another such company recently announced plans of rehabilitating a vacant warehouse space on Franklin Ave.

La Colombe has received approval from the zoning board to open the flagship location. In fact, the owners plan to build a café, a rum distillery and a bakery, all in the same facility. The largeness of the project had some community members worried that the coffee shops already in the area might be run out of the neighborhood.

Of course, these are natural issues to consider when a community takes its culture and resources seriously. However, the owners of Lola Bean — another coffee shop in the same block of Franklin Ave. — welcomed the new addition to the neighborhood. The owners said their customers have a relationship with Lola Bean that goes “beyond just a cup of coffee.”

The zoning process in Fishtown is open to everyone in the neighborhood, and generally there are two votes: a local vote involving people whose homes are within 500 feet of the proposed business, and a vote including members of the wider community.

If you’re interested in the legal side of real estate in Philadelphia, our real estate website has more.

Source: Philadelphia Weekly, “The Fishtown coffee-shop boom keeps heating up,” Randy LoBasso, Feb. 19, 2014