Deborah McColloch, Director: 1234 Market St., 17th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107
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News and Press 2011
Contact:
Paul Chrystie Tel: 215-686-9721, Paul.Chrystie@phila.gov

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Press Releases 2011

November 16, 2011

Rehabilitating Vacant Lots Improves Urban Health and Safety

Greening and maintaining urban vacant lots leads to an increase in neighborhood health and safety, concluded a study from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) LandCare Program, which is supported by OHCD, was linked to significant reductions in gun assaults across most of Philadelphia and significant reductions in vandalism in one section of the city. Vacant lot greening was also associated with residents reporting significantly less stress and more exercise. The study follows earlier findings from the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research that showed improved vacant lots have a positive effect on property values.

The research team, led by senior author Charles C. Branas, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, conducted a decade-long comparison of vacant lots and improved vacant lots, that “Improving the places where people live, work and play, holds great promise for changing health and safety,” says Branas. “Greening vacant lots is a low-cost, high-value approach, which may prevent certain crimes and encourage healthy activity for more people and for longer periods of time than many other approaches.”

“Dr. Branas’s study adds to the growing body of evidence that cleaned and greened lots are important elements in a revitalized community,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  “The City’s partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society enhances health and safety in addition to creating jobs and increasing property values; now we have scientific proof of the benefits of this collaboration.”

In 1999, PHS began a program to green vacant lots in Philadelphia.  This program involved removing trash and debris, grading the land, planting grass and trees to create a park-like setting, and installing low wooden post-and-rail fences around each lot to show that it was cared for and to deter illegal dumping. Several times a year, PHS returned to each greened lot to perform basic maintenance, such as mowing the grass, tending trees, or repairing fences.

Branas and his team analyzed the impact of this program for a decade, from 1999 to 2008, using a statistical design that considered various health and safety outcomes and numerous other factors occurring on and around vacant lots, before and after they were treated, as compared to vacant lots that were not greened over the same time period. Across Philadelphia, nearly 4,500 vacant lots totaling over 7.8 million square feet were greened from 1999-2008. Untreated control lots were randomly selected and matched to treated lots by section of the city.

In an editorial, the Philadelphia Inquirer called the program “an important step toward giving residents the support and encouragement they need to take back their neighborhoods.” Here is thecomplete editorialand anInquirer front page article

For more information, view the full release from the University of Pennsylvania.

October 12, 2011

Mayor Nutter and APM Cut Ribbon on the Sheridan Street Green Building Initiative, a LEED Gold Affordable Housing Development

Mayor Michael A. Nutter cut a green ribbon today to celebrate a new environmentally friendly affordable homeownership development in Eastern North Philadelphia. The Sheridan Street Green Affordable Housing Development transformed formerly vacant land into 13 contemporary homes that will lower costs for the homeowners while strengthening the neighborhood.

Developed by Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), the concept for Sheridan Street stemmed from the 2002 Neighborhood Revitalization Plan developed in partnership with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The plan that sought to apply smart growth and environmental sustainability best practices to eliminate blight in low-income areas.

“Sheridan Street serves as a model development for the City of Philadelphia," said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  "It shows that we can overcome blight, build a strong community and provide quality housing for our neighbors in a sustainable way. APM has brought Philadelphia one step closer to being America’s greenest city."

Nilda Ruiz, APM’s president and CEO, said “APM is extremely pleased with all the innovative aspects of this development. It is unique in so many ways, proving that affordable housing can be modern and green. Its trend-setting status is also evident in the way it brought together such diverse partners to make it possible.”

Sheridan Street has received LEED for Homes Gold certification. LEED Gold is the second highest level in this recognized standard for measuring the sustainability of a development.

Each home uses a solar hot water panel to provide water heating. Green roofs, rain barrels and turf pavers reduce stormwater runoff into Philadelphia’s Combined Sewer Overflow system. The green roofs also decrease heating and cooling costs and extend the life of the roofs.

The exterior is clad in fiber-cement board, which is resilient and contains a high level of recycled content. The interlocking L shape of the site plan organizes houses, parking spaces, and yards in a manner that maximizes use of the constrained lot size. Exterior windows are positioned to improve interior climate control.

APM partnered with Interface Studio Architects LLC (ISA) to use design and technological innovation to create an architecturally interesting and sustainable affordable housing model. The partners submitted the Sheridan Street design to Community Design Collaborative’s Affordable Infill Housing Design Challenge, which addressed policy and funding constraints for affordable housing. The design received positive jury feedback on the development’s unique style and the integration of an original design into familiar dimensions of urban townhomes. The project also won the prestigious American Institute of Architect’s top Philadelphia design prize, AIA’s Silver Medal, in 2006.

Brian A. Hudson Sr., executive director and CEO of PHFA, said, “This development offers homeowners features that will not only decrease their bills, but also will preserve their community for years to come. It’s a solid investment for individuals and the city.”

Councilman Darrell Clarke said, “This development defines innovation. It eliminates blight, offers modern and beautiful homes at affordable prices, and features environmentally friendly components. This development, along with APM’s other investments in this neighborhood, have been essential in its revitalization. Thank you for your dedication.”

The Sheridan Street homes complement previous City investments in APM neighborhood initiatives. The multi-phase Pradera development brought new affordable housing to the neighborhood while also raising property values. The City’s investment of Community Development Block Grant funds inBorinquen Plaza, located just one block away, brought a bank, a supermarket and other shopping options to the community.

One home will be accessible to those with physical disabilities and all units will be visitable. Homes will be sold to households at 60-115% of Area Median Income with prices from $150,000-165,000. (A family of 4 at 60% AMI earns $48,240.) There are 12 three-bedroom units and one four-bedroom unit.

The City of Philadelphia provided $1.84 million in HOME and Housing Trust Fund support to the $4.57 million development.  The City also provided a $1.98 million construction loan that will be repaid with sales proceeds.  Other funders included PHFA with $500,000, Philadelphia LISC with $102,000, and The William Penn Foundation with $100,000.

Deborah McColloch, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said, “The design, energy-efficient features and affordability of Sheridan Street Housing have created an attractive and welcoming place to call home. Congratulations to APM!”

June 20, 2011

Streetscape Improvement Project Revitalizes North Fifth Street Commerical Corridor

Streetscape

Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and City and State officials joined the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (HACE) to celebrate the completion of El Centro de Oro Streetscape Improvement Project in Fairhill. This project strengthens the vibrant North 5th Street commercial corridor and cultural center, and helps build an identity as a regional attraction for Philadelphia's growing Latino community.

El Centro de Oro extends from Lehigh Avenue to Indiana Avenue along 5th Street. Long regarded as the hub of commerce and culture for the Latino community, El Centro de Oro includes the greatest concentration of Latino-owned businesses, cultural and social establishments in the tri-state region.  A variety of culturally oriented businesses and institutions are housed within this corridor including HACE’s Main Street Office, Taller Puertorriqueño, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Julia de Burgos Middle School, the Lighthouse and El Centro de Oro Business Association.

The goals of the streetscape improvements were to provide an identity with unique cultural character for local and regional visitors; to better showcase the growing array of businesses and restaurants; to attract new businesses and commerce; and to improve safety and security for drivers and pedestrians.

Councilwoman Quiñones-Sánchez said, “The commercial corridor is a central component of the community’s stability. It impacts individuals, families and the neighborhood’s economic livelihood. It helps create jobs and boost tourism. I commend HACE for their comprehensive and thoughtful development strategy and offer my congratulations on El Centro de Oro!”

“The streetscape enhancements along this stretch of North Fifth Street have transformed El Centro de Oro into a culturally vibrant, decorative ‘Main Street’ corridor that will enhance the quality of life of the local residents and business owners,” said Lester C. Toaso, district executive for PennDOT.

The specific streetscape improvements include:

  • Lighting: New street lighting includes fixtures designed to meet both pedestrian and vehicular illumination criteria; to be practical and economical to maintain; and to complement the aesthetics of the overall streetscape. 
  • Sidewalks: Coloring and patterns in the sidewalk have traditionally been used to highlight the corridor, but have faded and been fragmented by paving repairs. The Streetscape Improvement Project repaved the sidewalks with a distinctive design that can also be effectively maintained and reproduced when repairs are needed.
  • Palm Trees:  48 beautiful metal ornamental palm trees have been installed as part of branding the corridor into a destination place for tourists and the community.

Barry Seymour, executive director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, said, “El Centro de Oro is a significant project because it builds and strengthens relationships between businesses, community groups, residents and government officials. These partnerships are essential in the economic growth and sustainability of the community.”

The project is a component in HACE’s strategy to create economic vitality by integrating commercial and residential development. HACE’s housing development strengthens residential neighborhoods close to the amenities of El Centro de Oro, while its commercial development initiatives have broadened and strengthened the business community and the local economy. Together, these strategies bring thousands of people to the corridor every year.

HACE is also currently working on other complementary initiatives in El Centro de Oro to further strengthen the community. These efforts include parking access; facade revitalization and other visual improvements; maintenance coordination; gateway planning and implementation; and design and painting of murals throughout the corridor. El Centro de Oro already features multiple striking murals by Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Guillermo “Bill” Salas Jr., president of HACE, said “El Centro de Oro not only signifies the strength of our commercial corridor, but the strength of our entire community. The improvements will further empower local neighbors and businesses, build confidence for investors, promote job creation and advance our appeal as a destination for visitors. I am proud of the results and I thank all of our partners.”

 “Investing in commercial corridors grows the local economy, creates jobs for local residents and makes the entire community stronger. This project will bring that energy to El Centro de Oro,” said Kevin Dow, chief operating officer of the Philadelphia Department of Commerce.

El Centro de Oro was funded by the City of Philadelphia with a $900,000 Commercial Corridor Bond. Additionally, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided $2 million in construction funds through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program and PennDOT provided $977,500 through the Hometown Streets program. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has provided HACE with Main Street funding to support initiatives along El Centro de Oro and Elm Street funding to strengthen the residential neighborhood surrounding the corridor.

Deborah McColloch, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said, “HACE’s commercial and residential activities over the past 30 years have changed the landscape of Fairhill. The street improvements offer additional safety and appeal to the corridor, benefiting the local economy and the community. I am so glad to be here to celebrate with HACE today.”

June 14, 2011

Temple Housing I cuts ribbon on 58 affordable housing units on North 16th Street

1260 Housing Development Corporation and the CPM Housing Group announced the completion of the Temple I N. 16th Street Project – the LEED® Gold certified rehabilitation of 58 affordable housing units in 22 historic brownstone buildings.  A public ceremony – including LEED® plaque presentation – was held at 10:00 am on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 on the 1700 Block of N. 16th Street in North Philadelphia.
  
The sustainable design features of this project highlight 1260’s commitment to environmental stewardship and the long-term health of its residents, and are part of the larger plan to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood. David Hahn, Director of Construction, explains, “Not only will the native vegetation and run-off swales reduce flooding and contribute to the overall aesthetics of the block, but the cost savings the tenants will realize in their energy-efficient units (with extra insulation, Energy-Star appliances, and high-efficiency plumbing) will allow for more discretionary income to be spent in the community.” 
  
Development funding for the Project was provided by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (through the ARRA Tax Credit Exchange program), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Home Loan Banks of Pittsburgh and New York, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia, The Reinvestment Fund, and Beneficial Bank.  Rental subsidies for the Project are provided by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Temple I also benefited financially from selling a carbon offset through the Enterprise Green Communities Offset Fund, the first domestic offset program supporting carbon reducing efforts through green affordable housing. Enterprise bought 822 metric tons of carbon emissions reductions from this project which will be retired, measured and verified over the next ten years. 
  
Sustainable design elements of the Project include: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber; additional insulation in exterior walls; no Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)-emitting finishes or adhesive materials; high efficiency plumbing fixtures; high recycled content building materials and Energy Star and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-free mechanical systems. New Energy-Star Low E argon filled replacement and new windows increase day-lighting. A white roof system helps reduce the “heat island” effect. All site work was conducted in a manner to minimize disturbance of native vegetation and soil within the construction area. Best Management Practices of erosion and sedimentation controls were used, and a construction waste recycling program diverted 85% of the waste from landfills to recycling facilities. 

May 27, 2011

Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Council President Anna Verna and State Representative Kenyatta Johnson joined Community Ventures and South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. to celebrate the groundbreaking of 11 new construction homes at 17th and Federal Streets in the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philadelphia. This development will create affordable homeownership opportunities on two currently vacant sites.

“The city is committed to preserving affordable housing options. All of our neighbors deserve the opportunity to have a safe, quality place to call home. This commitment is certainly evident in Point Breeze,” said Mayor Nutter. “This development demonstrates the positive impact stimulus dollars have on strengthening neighborhoods by creating jobs, boosting the local economy and eliminating blight.”

The homes at 17th and Federal Streets complement other city efforts to preserve affordability in the Point Breeze neighborhood. Over the past 20 years, more than 500 units of affordable homeownership, rental, senior and special needs housing have been produced, either through new construction or rehabilitation, in Point Breeze. 

Using Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), this development will provide local construction jobs, strengthening the local economy. Point Breeze was one of only three neighborhoods in city to be targeted for affordable housing development under NSP.

Council President Verna said, “This development is significant because it helps provide affordable homeownership options for residents of Point Breeze. I am proud to be here to celebrate this milestone.” 

State Representative Johnson said, “Blight prevention and elimination and providing safe, quality housing options are essential in strengthening our community – this development clearly complements these goals.”

Eight homes will be available to families earning less than $50,000 a year. Two homes are accessible for persons with physical disabilities and purchasing priority will be given to qualified current Point Breeze residents. All homes have off-street parking, central air, bamboo floors and are energy-efficient.

The City of Philadelphia provided $3.8 million in NSP funds to finance the development and donated the land where the homes will be built. The remainder of $5.675 million development budget will be funded by the sale of the homes.

Claudia S. Sherrod, executive director of South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S., said, “I am proud to be a part of this development, which will bring new affordable housing options to Point Breeze.”

Steve Kaufman, executive director of Community Ventures, said, “We are thrilled to be a part of providing important affordable homeownership options in this vibrant and growing neighborhood. I thank all the partners involved for making this development possible, including the neighbors, our elected officials, South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. and the City of Philadelphia.”

May 17, 2011

PROJECT H.O.M.E. AND BETHESDA PROJECT UNVEIL CONNELLY HOUSE, A NEW APARTMENT BUILDING TO HOUSE FORMERLY HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS
Connelly House will be the First LEED-Certified Affordable Housing Facility in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, May 16, 2011 — After years of planning and construction, today Project H.O.M.E. and Bethesda Project are partnering with Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Congressman Chaka Fattah, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Brian Hudson from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, to unveil Connelly House, the first LEED-certified, affordable housing facility in Center City, which is named for the philanthropic legacy of John F. and Josephine C. Connelly, founders of the Connelly Foundation. The two nonprofit organizations are dedicated to serving the needs of the homeless and formerly homeless Philadelphians, and worked in partnership for the first time to build a facility that houses 79 men and women.

“Bringing this project to life was a tremendous team effort between Project H.O.M.E., Bethesda Project, the Connelly Foundation, The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, St. John the Evangelist Church and the local community,” said Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project H.O.M.E. “It is a great feeling to see all of the hard work and collaboration pay off as we recently filled the last room in Connelly House, which 79 men and women now call home.”

The .18-acre square-shaped site is located in the center of Philadelphia’s business district at 13th and Market Streets. The eight-story building is 63,620 square-feet and consists of 79 single resident units. The building also features a multi-purpose room, a laundry room, an exercise room, multiple kitchens, offices, storage and a lobby/reception area. The building, located behind St. John the Evangelist church, is surrounded by commercial and institutional buildings, including the SEPTA building, Loews Hotel, Macy’s, and the PSFS building, among many others.

“It is not often you see an affordable housing facility built in the heart of Center City,” said Father Domenic Rossi, Executive Director of Bethesda Project. ‘The support this project has received from the community has been remarkable, and illustrates that Philadelphia shares our passion to end homelessness. The Connelly House residents will have close and easy access to transportation and all of the great opportunities Center City offers its residents, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results of this collaboration.”

Another important aspect of the building is that it will be LEED-certified. Environmentally-friendly components of the building include a green roof, highly insulated walls to improve thermal performance, a rainwater collection system for irrigation and non-potable use, high-efficiency mechanical systems and lighting, 20% of materials for the facility are constructed using recycled content and 75% of all demolition materials were recycled. The project is currently seeking Silver LEED Certification status in all six categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Material and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design Process.

In addition to serving as a living space, the new building also houses parish offices and a community room for Project H.O.M.E. and Bethesda Project programs. The two parts of the building have separate entrances and are designed to operate independently. The residential component has direct street access and embodies many features and amenities often found in Center City apartment buildings.

“Connelly Foundation has partnered with Project H.O.M.E. since its early efforts toward improving the quality of life of innumerable Philadelphians. Our Founders, John and Josephine Connelly, would be honored to have their names associated with this wonderful new building that will be a place of respite and hope.”

Samir Duncan, a Connelly House resident, said “1 feel blessed to be living at Connelly House and l am in love with it here. I see such potential for the residents to form a strong community that will give voice to those who don’t always have a voice—homeless men and women and those suffering from mental illness and recovery.”

About Proiect H.O.M.E.
Since 1989, Project H.O.M.E. has helped more than 8,000 people break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of care that includes street outreach, supportive housing and comprehensive services that focus on health care, education and employment. The organization also works to prevent homelessness and poverty through comprehensive neighborhood revitalization in North Philadelphia. These efforts include the renovation of vacant or deteriorated houses that are then sold to first-time homebuyers; economic reinvestment along the Ridge Avenue Corridor; adult and youth education and enrichment programs at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs; and community-based health care services. To learn more, visit www.projecthome.org.

About Bethesda Project
The mission of Bethesda Project is to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be family with those who have none. Since its founding in 1979, Bethesda Project staff and volunteers have helped single men and women who are homeless in Philadelphia by providing emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, and supportive services designed to help people leave homelessness behind and live a life of human dignity. The organization serves more than 6,000 different individuals annually at 16 sites in and around Center City. For information on how to support Bethesda Project as a volunteer or a donor, please visit www.hethcsdaproject.org.

May 3, 2011

Mayor Nutter & Councilwoman Miller Join Nolen Properties to Celebrate New Senior Housing
Presser Senior Apartments Recently Awarded Preservation Alliance Grand Jury Prize

Philadelphia- Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller joined Nolen Properties to celebrate the opening of Presser Senior Apartments on historic Johnson Street in Mt. Airy. The development, which was supported in part by federal stimulus funds, restored a 1914 historic property at risk of demolition into 45 mixed-income apartments for seniors.

Presser Senior Apartments was recently awarded a Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia Grand Jury Award for successfully maintaining the historic integrity of the building while adding modern amenities and energy efficient features during the restoration. 

Mayor Nutter said, “Presser Senior Apartments demonstrates Philadelphia’s successful use of stimulus funds. This development created jobs, transformed a vacant building back into a beautiful landmark, created much-needed affordable housing and made a positive impact on the entire community.”

Originally commissioned by sheet music publisher and philanthropist Theodore Presser, the Presser Home for Retired Music Teachers is a grand 52,248 square foot building that once housed those who dedicated their lives to music. The building became vacant in 2002, suffered significant deterioration and was a candidate for demolition under plans of prior owners. A coalition of community groups formed to prevent the demolition, and in 2005 they succeeded in adding the Presser Home to the National Register of Historic places.

Nolen Properties acquired the property in 2006 with the promise to restore it to its original beauty while using the structures in a manner pleasing to the neighbors. The development preserves a cornerstone building in the Philadelphia City Planning Commission 2004 Mt. Airy Neighborhood Plan and has set the stage for the restoration of the adjacent Nugent building, also to become senior affordable housing.

Councilwoman Miller said, “The significant history of this community is one of the reasons it is so special. I commend Nolen Properties, not just for preserving an important cornerstone building, but also for listening to the residents of this neighborhood.”

Brian Hudson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, said, “The restoration of Presser Senior Apartments is a important investment because it strengthens a community, provides critical senior housing and preserves Philadelphia’s past.”

The development preserved the entire original structure, including the masonry bearing walls, reinforced concrete floors and its built-up roof and significant historic parapet. The renovation of the exterior maintained the historic fabric of the original building, restoring the Italian Renaissance style smooth buff roman brick, limestone and terra cotta trim.

The building’s interior renovation design maintained and restored or replicated all the original hallways, including the 10-foot wide corridors, 12-foot high ceilings, and original trim. New crown molding was designed identical to the original for the former parlor. The first floor corridor had its original mosaic tile detail fully restored, including hand-cleaning with toothbrushes to preserve the color and texture.

The grounds preserved mature trees, and a portion of the original wrought iron hairpin fence has been salvaged, restored and reinstalled in front of the building.

Since the transoms in their original form were no longer permissible under current building codes, fire-rated glass was installed in these openings to maintain the appearance of the original design. New, energy-efficient windows match the building’s original design. All appliances meet Energy Star® requirements.

“We are grateful to the community, all of our funders and the Preservation Alliance for supporting this important development. Together, we created nearly 140 construction jobs. We believe the philanthropic mission of the original home remains in the modern Presser Senior Apartments,” said Jim Nolen, president of Nolen Properties.

Six apartments are accessible for people with physical disabilities and two more apartments are accessible to persons with vision or hearing impairments. Residents must be age 62 and above and must meet income requirements. The six apartments for people with physical disabilities will be available to seniors with incomes at or below 20% of the Area Median Income (AMI), ($13,725 for one person); 21 apartments will be affordable to seniors with incomes at or below 50% of AMI ($27,450 for one person) and 18 apartments will be affordable to seniors at or below 60% of the AMI ($32, 940 for one person).

The City of Philadelphia provided $2,000,000 in stimulus funds for the CDBG-R program. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency provided $2,259,189 in Tax Credit Assistance Program funds (a program of ARRA); Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh provided $650,000; and PNC Bank provided a $7,673,386 equity investment by using historic and low-income housing tax credits.

 

April 27, 2011

Mayor Nutter and Councilwoman Quiñones-Sánchez join HACE to celebrate new affordable homeownership development, Lawrence Court, first homeownership development in St. Hugh neighborhood in 30 years.

For a Channel 6 video of Lawrence Court click here

PHILADELPHIA-Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez joined the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (HACE) to celebrate the opening of Lawrence Court, a development of 50 new affordable townhomes. Lawrence Court transforms a vacant parcel of land at 3301-3361 N. Lawrence Street into the first homeownership development in the St. Hugh neighborhood in 30 years.

Lawrence Court addresses the community need for affordable homeownership opportunities outlined in the resident-driven 2005-2015 Neighborhood Plan. This development supports the significant public and private investment in the neighborhood, including the development of the Luis Munoz Marin Elementary School, Maria de los Santos Medical Center and HACE’s own $30 million development activities in the Caribe Development Zone, three blocks from the site.

Mayor Nutter said, “Lawrence Court helps meet the need for affordable homeownership options, while respecting the landscape of the neighborhood. I commend HACE for another important contribution to the revitalization of this wonderful community.”

Councilwoman Quiñones-Sánchez said, “Lawrence Court advances the community’s development strategy by offering safe and affordable homeownership options. There has been immense progress in eliminating blight, building recreational and educational opportunities for our youth, strengthening the commercial corridor and creating housing choices. The neighborhood is on the rise!”

Guillermo “Bill” Salas, president of HACE, said, “This development serves as a direct response to the needs of the community. We are proud to build affordable and quality homes that truly reflect the heritage of this remarkable neighborhood.” 

Brian Hudson, executive director of PHFA, said, “Lawrence Court provides a necessary piece in the comprehensive plan of the neighborhood. With homeownership options, nearby property values increase, residents remain longer and the community gains stability. This development creates long- and short-term gains for the community.” 

All homes have three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms and off-street parking. Five homes are accessible to people with physical disabilities and two homes are accessible for people with visual and hearing impairments.

The development was designed to assure long-term affordability of the units through energy efficiency.  All homes have been designed to meet Home Energy Rating System (HERS) regulations and to meet all Energy Star Qualified Homes requirements. Homes feature daylight sensors on outdoor lighting, water-saving fixtures and low VOC caulking, sealants and adhesives.

The exteriors of the homes feature wrought iron balconies, railings, window boxes and a colorful variety of facades and decorative details that reflect the Latino heritage of the neighborhood. Some units have 2nd floor balconies, while others have large 2nd floor bay windows. 

At least 45 homes will be sold to households with incomes at or below 80% of area median income (AMI). The remaining five homes are available to households up to 115% of AMI.  A family of four at 80% of AMI earns $62,650 per year; at 115% of AMI, a family of four would earn $90,045.

Lawrence Court was made possible by strong support from the City of Philadelphia. The Office of Housing and Community Development provided $1,000,000 in Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund support and directed $3,100,000 in HOME funds and $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to the development. The city also provided $909,479 through the New River City initiative to support water system improvements.

Other funders included:

  • Housing and Redevelopment Assistance, PA Department of Community and Economic Development: $2,411,000
  • Homeownership Construction Initiative, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency: $1,950,000
  • Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh: $650,000

Deborah McColloch, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said, “Lawrence Court provides much-needed affordable housing, eliminates blight and contributes to the revitalization of the neighborhood. Today’s celebration is not just for a new development, but for a whole community. Congratulations, HACE!”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER JOINS WITH JON BON JOVI SOUL FOUNDATION  TO CELEBRATE OPENING OF COVENANT HOUSE HOUSING FOR HOMELESS TEENS
PHILADELPHIA – Formerly homeless youth will take part in a special ribbon cutting ceremony today at their new Covenant House Rights of Passage apartments in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

“The Rights of Passage Program not only provides a safe place for homeless youth, but also provides skills and experiences needed to become independent and responsible adults,” said Mayor Michael Nutter.  “The city is proud to be part of such an important and unique program.”

The Covenant House Rights of Passage program is based on the simple belief that all children have the right to pass into adulthood without being abused and homeless. The new housing development consists of 10 two-bedroom units, and includes outdoor recreational space, a lounge and computer lab, laundry facilities, and offices for program support staff.  It will provide temporary housing for 20 homeless youths under the age of 21.
"Today is a celebration of the lives of the young people who will call this home,” said Jon Bon Jovi.  “It’s a victory over the issues that forced them into homelessness and economic despair.  Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships like this, we can all support innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.”
The Rights of Passage apartments in Kensington are a direct response to the growing need for transitional housing for young adults in Philadelphia. Covenant House alone serves more than 500 young people every year through its Crisis Shelter, with limited resources for transitioning them to independence. This expanded Rights of Passage program is the final piece of Covenant House’s continuum of care that provides youth with both the joy of independence and the stability of a safety net.

“This is a dream come true for our kids, a chance to have a place to live and work and grow and build new futures for themselves after a tough start in life,” said Covenant House President Kevin Ryan.  “We are here today because of the amazing support we have received from Jon Bon Jovi and his JBJ Soul Foundation, from Mayor Nutter and his staff, from our friends at the Connelly Foundation, the Horn Charitable Trust, and from thousands of private citizens who believe in our kids.  In the midst of such difficult economic times, today is a great example of what we can accomplish together.”
           
Since 1999 Covenant House has been providing faith-based services to children suffering on the street.  The Rights of Passage Program requires all residents to be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week, participate in life skills classes, attend to daily chores, complete three or more hours of community service each month, and pay rent.  Aftercare is also provided to graduates of the program.

“We are so excited to finally cut the ribbon and open these apartments for our kids,” said Cordella Hill, Executive Director of Covenant House Pennsylvania. “What started as a dream eight years ago is finally becoming a reality. This is a truly monumental day for homeless youth in Philadelphia.”

Funding for this project includes $400,000 from the City of Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund; $600,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and distributed by the Office of Housing and Community Development, as well as large grants from Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, The Connelly Foundation, the David A. and Helen P. Horn Charitable Trust, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and over $500,000 from individual supporters of Covenant House.

March 31, 2011

Harvard’s Kennedy School Honors Philadelphia LandCare Program

PHILADELPHIA (March 2011) –  The Philadelphia LandCare Program, coordinated by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and funded by the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development, was honored March 29 as one of 36 “Bright Ideas” across the country that address pressing public issues with creative and innovative programming.

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognizes the Bright Ideas recipients, which focus on issues such as health care, education, performance management, civic engagement and service delivery, and represent programming of school districts, county, city, state, and federal agencies, as well as programs that demonstrate the value of partnership among nonprofit, public and private sectors in improving the lives of citizens. The programs were selected by an evaluation team of policy experts comprised of both academics and practitioners. 

The Philadelphia LandCare Program developed and administered by PHS has transformed thousands of trash-strewn, idle parcels of land into neighborhood assets by adding trees, wood fences, and well-maintained lawns as a strategic interim precursor to development.

“The LandCare Program contributes to the economic progress and quality of life of neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia,” said PHS President Drew Becher. “We are very proud to be recognized for our work by the Ash Center of Harvard University’s Kennedy School.”

“The improvements undertaken through the LandCare Program are often the first step toward revitalizing a neighborhood,” said Deborah McColloch, Director of OHCD.  “LandCare is lifting up some of Philadelphia’s most distressed communities and providing jobs for neighborhood residents.”

The Bright Ideas program is part of a broader initiative of the Innovations in American Government Awards program, which spotlights exemplary models of government innovation and advances efforts to address the nation’s most pressing public concerns.

“Government is struggling to deliver quality services with strapped resources and diminishing budgets,” said Anthony Saich, director of the Ash Center. “These 36 government programs demonstrate that creative solutions to some of our nation’s most intractable problems can be generated and succeed in even in the most challenging of environments.”

March 30, 2011

THE OFFICE OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND COMMERCE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCE AWARDS FOR MIXED-USED PILOT PROGRAM 
Developments will create affordable housing, commercial opportunities and local jobs

The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) and the Philadelphia Department of Commerce have announced more than $1 million in support through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to five developments through its Mixed-Use Development Pilot Program. The goal of this program is to create affordable housing and economic opportunities by eliminating blight and strengthening Philadelphia’s neighborhood commercial areas. 

The selected developments will create a total of 12 affordable housing units, 9 commercial spaces and will create approximately 35-45 permanent local jobs. 

Deborah McColloch, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said, “This pilot program aims to revitalize commercial corridors in neighborhoods and stimulate the local economy, while offering much-needed affordable housing opportunities. I have confidence that the awarded developments will have a significant impact on their communities.” 

Each of the developments was selected through a competitive Request for Proposal process. All developments include the rehabilitation of mixed-use properties on or adjacent to commercial corridors. 

The following developments were selected to receive support:

2739-47 North 5th St. 
Developer: Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (HACE) 
Awarded: $250,000 
This development will include three commercial units and eight affordable apartments along El Centro de Oro in Fairhill. 

4622-24 Woodland Ave. 
Developer: HAS Investment Partners, LP 
Awarded: $250,000 
Development will include two commercial properties and two affordable apartments along Woodland Avenue in West Philadelphia. 

4954 Old York Road 
Developer: Logan CDC 
Awarded: $209,740 
Development will include two commercial properties and two affordable apartments along the Old York Road and North Broad Street commercial corridors in North Philadelphia. 

6513 and 6614-24 (D) Germantown Ave. 
Developer: Mt Airy USA 
Awarded: $249,600 
Development will include two commercial units and three affordable apartments on Germantown Avenue in Mount Airy. 

7612 Ogontz Ave. 
Developer: Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation 
Awarded: $75,000 
Development will include one commercial unit and two affordable apartments along the Ogontz Avenue Commercial Corridor in West Oak Lane. 

February 23, 201

CITY AND NEW KENSINGTON CDC EXHIBIT STRENGTH OF COMMUNITY AT FLOWER SHOW

The city’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) will tell the story of an urban side-yard transformed from a vacant lot into a garden at the 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show. The exhibit, titled “From Blight to Blossom,” represents building community, community health, neighborhood revitalization and sustainability.

The show runs from March 6th-March 13th at the Philadelphia Convention Center. “From Blight to Blossom” will be one of four participants in the Backyard Challenge class.

A highlight of the exhibit is the colorful flowerpots and garden path steppingstones hand-decorated by children from the New Kensington area. The flower pots and steppingstones, each uniquely designed, fill the garden with a youthful spirit and acknowledge the strong sense of community shaped by residents of all ages.

This exhibit is just the latest activity in a partnership between the city and NKCDC. Working with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) through OHCD-supported programs such as the Philadelphia Green Program, the New Kensington Open Space Management Program and the PHS Vacant Land Management Program, these partners have transformed hundreds of vacant lots into green space since 1995.

OHCD has also provided support for curbside tree planting, the installation of watering systems, the creation of a greening plan for Frankford Avenue, a garden center that hosts educational programs, and lot stabilization, including clearing debris and installing fencing.

Sandy Salzman, executive director of NKCDC, said, “Replacing vacant lots with clean and beautiful green spaces has created a better quality of life for our residents and has helped create an environmentally and economically sustainable community. Our Flower Show exhibit highlights that neighborhood revitalization to visitors from around the world.”

The benefit of turning vacant lots into gardens and other greening efforts has been felt around the city, particularly in the New Kensington service area.

According to a 2005 study conducted by Professor Susan Wachter of the University of Pennsylvania, there has been a 30% increase in the values of property adjacent to vacant lots that have been transformed with greening in the New Kensington area. New tree planting increased property value by 10%. The cumulative impact is an increase in property value by over $12 million dollars.

Additionally, by improving the general appearance of communities, green space transformation helps attract new families and retain existing residents.

Greening efforts also promote economic vitality. Commercial corridor investment partnered with greening efforts have helped spur the revitalization of the Frankford Avenue Arts Corridor and encouraged new development. 45% of the approximately 40 vacant industrial buildings in this immediate area have been or are being rehabbed for adaptive uses, leveraging more than $23 million in private investment.

Green spaces bring other benefits to a community. Neighborhood parks and other green space in a neighborhood reduce childhood obesity, according to a study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine; green space helps manage stormwater and save money on infrastructure; and parks and trees reduce air pollution.

Greening programs, as exhibited in New Kensington, also offer volunteer opportunities that build community spirit and pride. NKCDC organizes volunteer days for residents and supporters of all ages to clean and green the area.

Deborah McColloch, director of the OHCD said, “Greening initiatives have many immediate and long-term benefits and are essential components of the revitalization of many neighborhoods. Visitors to the Flower Show will see an example of the exciting green transformation taking place all over Philadelphia.

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February 2011

THE PRESERVATION ALLIANCE OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA ANNOUNCED 
PRESSER SENIOR APARTMENTS AWARDED A GRAND JURY AWARD


Philadelphia, PA- Nolen Properties, LLC and the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development announce that Presser Senior Apartments on historic Johnson Street in Mt. Airy has been awarded a 2011 Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. 

After suffering much deterioration, Nolen Properties acquired this historic treasure and transformed it into 45 affordable apartments for senior citizens. The design and restoration succeeded in maintaining the original character and fabric of the building. 

Jim Nolen, President of Nolen Properties, said, “Presser Senior Apartments offers older Philadelphians safe and affordable housing, while preserving the history of this extraordinary building. The development process restored the original structure and respected the authentic and distinctive design detail. It has been an honor to work on this building and to be recognized by the Preservation Alliance.” 

Originally commissioned by sheet music publisher and philanthropist Theodore Presser, the Presser Home for Retired Music Teachers is a grand 52,248 square foot building. The original Presser Home building was designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm Seymour & Davis and completed in 1914. 

The building became vacant in 2002, suffered significant deterioration and was a candidate for demolition under prior owners. A coalition of community groups formed to prevent this demolition, and in 2005 they succeeded in adding the Presser Home to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Nolen Properties acquired the property in 2006 with the promise to restore it to the original beauty and keep its historic integrity. Architect JKR Partners led the design team that fully restored the interior and exterior of the building, maintained many original character-defining features and utilized the original design while introducing modern components. 

The renovation of the exterior maintained the historic fabric of the original building, restoring the original Italian Renaissance style with smooth buff roman brick, limestone, and terra cotta trim. 

The building’s interior renovation design maintained and restored or replicated all the original hallways, including the 10 foot wide corridors, 12 foot high ceilings, and original decorative millwork. New crown molding was designed identical to the original for the former Parlor. The first floor corridor had its original mosaic tile detail fully restored, which required hand-cleaning with toothbrushes to preserve the color and texture. 

The original design included single rooms with sinks, but only communal bathrooms on each floor. By reducing the density from 86 rooms to 45 apartments, each new apartment now has a private bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen. 

The locations of original hallway doors were retained to maximize the historic accuracy.  Since the transoms in their original form were no longer compatible with today’s building codes, the development team installed fire-rated glass in these openings to maintain the appearance of the original design. 

While maintaining historic integrity, the building’s design incorporated energy efficient elements. All appliances meet Energy Star® requirements. All new windows meet the original design standards, and are fully energy efficient historically accurate replacements. 

The building has also been transformed to include modern amenities including a community room, a management/support service office, a mailroom and a laundry on every floor. Each apartment will also have internet access and fiber-optic connectivity. 

The grounds preserved mature trees and a portion of the original wrought iron hairpin fence has been salvaged, restored and reinstalled in front of the building. The rear courtyard has been refinished with brick pavers, benches, planting areas and umbrella tables to serve as the residents’ central gathering place in the warmer months.  The former Recital Hall has been carefully and accurately restored with its original warm oak floors. 

Deborah McColloch, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said, “The City is pleased to have funded the historic renovation of Presser Senior Apartments. Providing quality affordable housing, while restoring a community treasure is a win for everyone involved.” 

Six apartments are accessible for people with physical disabilities and two more apartments are accessible to persons with vision or hearing impairments. Residents must be ages 62 and above and must meet income requirements. The six apartments for people with physical disabilities will be available to seniors with incomes at or below 20% of the Area Median Income (AMI), ($13,725 for one person); 21 apartments will be affordable to seniors with incomes at or below 50% of AMI ($27,450 for one person) and 18 apartments will be affordable to seniors at or below 60% of the AMI ($32, 940 for one person). 

Over 300 applications have already been received for the 45 apartments. Move-in is scheduled in early spring.

 

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