South Street/Headhouse

Business Improvement District


  • Long – time urban Main street in downward cycle.
  • Security/safety issues – need for more cooperation with police, local government.
  • Affluent neighbors issues with businesses and clientele.
  • Sanitary conditions.
  • Local government abuse of merchants.


  • Residential community leaders and some merchants ask Harris to take a leadership roll in trying to address the situation.
  • Researched and addressed how newly emerging idea of a business improvement district could support and help as an entity (municipal authority) address the multitude of issues.
  • Explored this and other options with government people as well as leaders of the residential communities nearby.
  • As the Founding Chairperson, Harris led the step-by-step 2-year process of getting support of the merchants, the community, and government to form the legal entity – Municipal Authority – known as the South Street/Headhouse Business District.


  • Maintained and now growing the South Street position as one of the top entertainment destinations in the Philadelphia region.
  • Improved sanitation dramatically.
  • Created a police mini-station with walking police patrols.
  • Supplied bicycles (and maintenance) for police.
  • Created a zoning overlay to keep the retail and restaurant and other mix that is so unique to South Street.
  • Developed and strategized district and cooperative marketing campaigns
  • Initiated an effective dialogue between the municipal government agencies and the merchants and property owners of the Street.
  • Created an additional entity to take ownership and restore the Historic Headhouse “Shambles” – one of the few open air markets in America still standing and in use – from colonial times.
  • Extended initial 5 year trial period, to a 20 year sunset provision.
  • New and effective outdoor lighting.
  • Special support programs to help merchants improve the appearance of their properties and stores.
  • 15 years later, the district is a major presence in Philadelphia and the community.