The homes come with solar panels and energy efficient appliances. Some are equipped with elevators for the disabled. The center of the complex, which occupies an entire block, is gated parking and a small park. Store fronts will open on one side of the complex.
This isn’t the newest big-time suburban development, though, this is Mantua Square. The Philadelphia Housing Authority development occupies the entire block south of Fairmount Avenue between 35th and 36th streets. The project replaced the 18-story Mantua Hall with 101 units in a low-rise configuration. It is a different approach to affordable housing in the lower-income neighborhood.
“I think people will probably think their community is better, because they look at these houses and live in these houses,” local resident Kiera Brown said. “The people that live in these houses are proud of what they have.”
Mantua has a reputation as being rough, but the gated community may lure people to the community who were unsure of living or raising a family in the neighborhood.
“It’s locked off so not just anyone can go in there, it’s key accessible. I think it’s pretty secure and there’s always security walking around,” local resident Kiesha Brown said.
Additionally appealing to families with children is Morton McMichael Public School, which is located directly across Fairmount Aveue. A block away is the recently constructed McAlpin Playground.
Residential units opened last October, but the complex is not yet complete, nor are the store fronts on Fairmount Avenue finished. Bare plaster still adorns the walls. These store fronts may prevent the project from being a walled community and integrate it into the neighborhood as community members come to shop.