The City and a private developer, John Westrum, have seen an opportunity to convert blighted buildings and vacant industrial land into a mixed income development. This project includes rental and homeownership housing that will be sold at both market-rate and affordable prices. Grants will be available to existing residents to complete home improvements and settlement grant assistance will be available to renters to assist with the down payment to purchase a home in the area.
1. Market-rate townhomes on the former Acme parking lot.
(Located between Thompson/31st/32nd and Master Streets.)
This parcel was acquired privately by Westrum Development Company and is part of the first phase of construction. There will be 144 market-rate townhomes accessed from the street with parking in the rear. There is no public subsidy in this phase. Zoning was completed in 2004 and construction is underway. The construction team includes a minority contractor Neismith who has an equal share with Dale Construction. The goal is more than 51 percent minority participation for subcontractors.
2. Rehabilitation of vacant structures and infill new construction.
(3000 blocks of Baltz, Stiles and Cabot Streets.)
Only vacant houses and lots are being acquired by the RDA. 20 houses will be developed by Genesis Construction, a minority firm. Settlement grants are available to income-eligible buyers.
3. Conversion of the former Acme warehouse to rental residential and commercial space.
(Located on N. 31sr Street between Master and Thompson Streets.)
Pennrose Properties and Melon Green Realty received an allocation of LIHTC to construct 61 affordable housing units within the warehouse. The remainder of the building, owned by Slavco Brkirk, will contain 100 market-rate rental housing units with commercial and office space on the first floor.
4. Market-rate homeownership development.
(Located north of the Acme parking lot.)
The RDA condemned four warehouses along Master Street east and west of 31st Street. These were cited as dangerous buildings by L&I and should be demolished. The warehouses were all excessively tax delinquent and operating illegally as horse stables. The condition of the buildings warranted prompt action by the City to remove the horses. The RDA took ownership of the properties in the summer of 2003 and asked the horse owners to leave by February 2004. The RDA assisted the owners with the first three months of boarding fees at a licensed stable: total cost was $20,000. The cleared parcels are being sold to the developer at fair market value. Construction will begin after the sale of the houses on the former Acme parking lot (Project 1).
5. Market-rate homeownership development at 31st and Thompson Streets
Westrum Development Company acquired the four large parcels that make up this block directly from the owners. One remaining vacant lot in the center was acquired by the RDA and is being sold to Westrum at fair market value. This site is proposed for market-rate homeownership units and will occur after Project 4 is completed.
Girard Avenue to Oxford Street between 30th and 32nd Streets
Westrum Development Co., Pennrose, Melon Green, Genesis
More than 700 residential units: mixed-use planned
20 Infill Rowhouses
406 Condo/Loft Apartments
Project Funding: Total Project Cost $100 million
Westrum Development Co., The Reinvestment Fund and Wachovia
Neighborhood grants $250,000
Community Gateway Park/Girard Crossing
(Located on Girard Avenue west of 31st Street.)
The Girard Coalition Inc. a neighborhood business and residents organization advocating for the redevelopment of Girard Avenue from river to river, developed a plan for streetscape improvements and public art along the avenue. In support of this effort, Westrum will deed the southern portion of the Halpern property to the Coalition and contribute financially to the construction of a gateway park and public art along the Girard Avenue Bridge across the Schuylkill River, connecting the commercial area and the Philadelphia zoo. The Empowerment Zone is providing a coordinator for this project.
Creation of a Community Plan
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission will lead a neighborhood planning process to engage residents in the development of a comprehensive plan for the area. This plan will look at areas to propose new construction and the rehabilitation of existing structures and work to document neighborhood assets and resources.