By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor
Joined by local dignitaries, the Philadelphia Housing Authority celebrated the groundbreaking of a 10-year, multi-phase project that aims to completely transform the Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood in North Philadelphia.
The entire development entails an estimated investment of $529 million, representing the agency’s most ambitious and dynamic initiative in nearly a decade.
Plans call for a mix of 1,200 new residences, including affordable, market-rate, rental, and home-ownership units, as well as 500,000 square feet of commercial space along Ridge Avenue that will be anchored by a new PHA headquarters and a supermarket. According to Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA president & CEO, the economic impact of this transformation on the area could reach $1.4 billion.
The first phase will bring 57 affordable rental units that will go up on three vacant parcels owned by PHA next to the Norman Blumberg Apartments. PHA will invest more than $22 million into the project, which marks its first Rental Assistance Demonstration Program, an affordable housing finance program created by the federal government to allow public housing authorities to expand funding options beyond what is provided by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Sharswood/Blumberg redevelopment was prompted by a $500,000 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant that HUD awarded PHA in December 2013.
It took nearly 40 planning meetings with residents and stakeholders before the local agency could come up with a blueprint for a new, prosperous and self-reliant community. The project is set to rise in an area north of Girard College, south of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, and between 19th and 27th Streets. About 500 families are being relocated to make way for the new development.
Photo credits: Philadelphia Housing Authority