Northwest: Queen Lane Apartments Inching Along

A flattened ball across from an empty playground

Plans to revamp the Queen Lane Apartments, vacant since 2011, are making progress after a series of setbacks slowed the project.

A gated up entrance to the Queen Lane Apartments
A gated up entrance to the Queen Lane Apartments.

According to the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s website, an archaeological survey of the site concluded last May after it was discovered the high-rise was partially built atop a burial place for unknown and indignant people dating back to the 1700s, also called a potter’s field.

Housing and Urban Development spokeswoman Niki Edwards confirmed a Programmatic Agreement had been executed as recently as Feb. 21. The agreement, “is a legally bonding document that describes the actions taken by all the parties involved to meet environmental compliance responsibilities,” Edwards stated via phone.]


Germantown resident Keith Robinson gazes out at the deserted streets.
Germantown resident Keith Robinson examines the trash on the streets.

The federal agency had hoped to finish the environmental review process by the end of 2013, but last year’s holiday season slowed the process until now.

“The next step, HUD has to issue the environmental clearance and demolition approval letters,” said Edwards.

The plan for the Queen Lane Apartments had been to demolish the high-rise and build 55 new low-income housing units. But according to reports from Newsworks last November, the PHA has been juggling the idea of rehabbing the 16-story building.

It’s unclear of what the future holds for the high-rise ahead of recent developments. Requests to PHA for comment have gone unanswered

Longtime Germantown resident, Kenny Gaines is ready to see something done with the static Queen Lane Apartments. Gaines said he grew up in the community and even lived in the apartments.

“The sad thing is they wasting all this when they should’ve had the building knocked down years ago,” said Gaines. “Why don’t they make a recreation center or homes for the elderly?”

A flattened ball across from an empty playground
A flattened ball across from Kelly Playground.

Kristyn Goodwyn grew up a few blocks from the apartments. She no longer lives in the area but still has family who does. Goodwyn says Germantown doesn’t experience the same commitment to redevelopment as other parts of the city.

“When they tore down Richard Allen, all those new low-income buildings popped up,” said Goodwyn. “For whatever reason that same energy never makes it north of Nicetown.”

 – Text and images by Charles Watson

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