Building and maintaining affordable housing urban centers like Philadelphia is complex. Forces like urban blight and gentrification make development difficult but essential. For Philadelphia’s most socio-economic vulnerable residents housing redevelopment plans mean the difference between having a community and being homeless . Here are five housing redevelopment plans in action across Philadelphia now.
JBJ Soul Homes – Fairmount
The newly constructed property pictured above lies on the triangular strip of land connecting Ridge and Fairmount avenues to North Broad Street. The multi-use four-story development will include 55 apartment units for qualified homeless adult as well as retail and office space. The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation provided about $16 million of the properties $20 million budget.
Blumberg Apartments – Sharswood/Brewerytown
Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, PHA, announced it would tear down the high-rise public housing units at the Blumberg Apartments. The renovations will include 57 new rental units available to qualified low- income Philadelphia residents. After the planning phase is completed, PHA will apply for a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant, which could mean as much as $30 million of development money. The Blumberg Apartments currently houses more than a thousands of people. Residents like Carol Burnette says although she agrees the neighborhood needs revitalization, she is not sure the plans PHA proposed will provide the resources the neighborhoods needs when construction starts and residents are left to fend for themselves.
G.W. Childs Elementary School – Point Breeze
In 2010, G.W. Childs Elementary was permanently closed and the students were moved to Barrett Junior High School at 17th and Wharton streets. Now, the School Reform Commission has sold the property to a private firm called Metal Ventures Inc. for $1.2 million. Point Breeze, where the building is located, is an area in Philadelphia that is quickly gentrifying. In order to develop with the community in mind, the company plans to build affordable apartment units in the building. The development will consist of 72 market- rate units, 12 low- income units and 51 parking spaces.
Norris Apartments – Temple University Area
A public housing development between Berks and Norris streets on the cusp of Temple University’s main campus, Norris Apartments is facing redevelopment. The Philadelphia Housing Authority has proposed a plan to demolish the current low-rise public housing units to construct 297 mixed-income homes. The redevelopment will include a community center, retail space and a parking lot. Although development is a promising idea for area, the construction will leave the Norris Apartment residents without homes, and forced to relocate.
Queen Lane Apartments – Germantown
The Queen Lane Apartments stand vacant and untouched three years after PHA announced its demolition. In their original plans, PHA hoped to construct 55 low-rise affordable housing units on the Queen Lane Apartments and adjacent Kelly Playground land. Construction was halted when it was discovered the plot Queen Lane Apartments was constructed on was a burial site for slaves. Now, three years later, residents are frustrated with the pace of the Queen Lane Apartments project. At regular neighborhood meetings, it was announced the complex will be demolished in October, but residents say the years of the lot’s vacancy have only exacerbated crime in the area.
– All images and text by Meaghan Pogue and Mamaye Mesfin.