Mantua residents and members of the Mantua Civic Association (MCA) gathered at the West Philadelphia Community Center last night for the unveiling of the We Are Mantua! Transformation Plan.
The plan is a result of a two-year community-based process in which community residents and other stakeholders provided input for the future of Mantua.
“The process of working to revitalize Mantua was very community-driven,” said Claudia Bitran, Mantua planner of Kitchen & Associates. “The announcements tonight won’t be a surprise, more a wrap up of the plan.”
The Transformation Plan seeks to engage residents, transform housing and create a higher qualify of life for Mantua residents.
“About two years ago Mt. Vernon Manor received a neighborhood planning grant. The task of the planning grant was to create a comprehensive transformational plan for the community of Mantua,” said Michael Thorpe, chairman of Mt. Vernon Manor.
The U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) awarded the Mt. Vernon Manor Board of Directors the 2010 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants to address the revitalization of Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments.
The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia contributed $3.7 million from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding to the restoration of the apartments.
As the concentration of the plan, Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments focuses on the neighborhood’s transformation by preserving affordability while greatly improving living conditions for its residents.
The first phase consisted of renovating 75 apartment units in 13 buildings, with four units being wheelchair accessible. The apartments feature a community room, computer lab and a laundry facility, as a requirement of the funding that backed the project. The second phase will include 50 more units renovated on Mantua Avenue and 34th Street with the Fall funding submission.
“June 2013 will complete our transformation plan,” said Thorpe. “This is our opportunity to reveal the work that over 200 people from the community have combined their ideas to create a vision for what they would like to see happen in this community.”
Donna Griffin, Community Engagement Specialist, was responsible for community engaging community members and capturing their vision in the plan. Griffin and Mantua residents prioritized improving capacity for civic engagement and promoting self-efficiency.
“We have accomplished some things but we have a long ways to go,” said Donna Griffin.
The plan will try to strengthen education, promote healthy lifestyles and make Mantua a safer neighborhood by courting strong leaders in schools, bringing a grocery store to Mantua and adding street lights to provide a safer environment for residents.
“Two years ago we didn’t even have a civic association,” said Thorpe. “We’ve made change and it is our responsibility to keep it alive.”
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