News

Welcoming Philadelphia’s First Public Sculpture Depicting an Individual African American Girl

New statue unveiled at Smith Playground as part of the 60thAnniversary of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art Programs

July 31, 2019
The City of Philadelphia celebrated the unveiling of MVP, Philadelphia’s first freestanding statue depicting an individual African American girl, as the official kickoff of the City of Philadelphia’s 60th Anniversary of the Percent for Art Programs.

Speakers included Brian Abernathy, Managing Director; Kathryn Ott Lovell, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner; Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer; and Brian McCutcheon, Artist. Also in attendance were Connor Barwin, Founder and Board President of Make The World Better Foundation; Mr. Ron, “The Mayor of Smith Playground”; Michael Mychak, Smith Playground Recreation Leader; Smith Playground summer campers, project partner organizations, artists, and many more.

“Philadelphia’s youth are the MVPs of our city,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The installation of MVP is an overdue public celebration of the incredible determination and achievement of every young Philadelphian.”

MVP by Brian McCutcheon is located at Smith Playground in South Philadelphia at 2100 South 24th Street. The original artwork was commissioned through the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy’s Percent for Art Program in partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, and the Make the World Better Foundation.

MVP celebrates those who have historically been underrepresented in Philadelphia’s public art collection – people of color, women, and our youth,” said Margot Berg, Public Art Director. “As Philadelphia’s collection of public art continues to grow through the Percent for Art Program and other initiatives, the City remains committed to commissioning artworks that reflect our city’s diverse communities and histories.”

The figurative bronze statue depicts a young, African American female basketball player. She has just taken possession of the ball and is poised in a decisive moment which will dictate what happens next. MVP represents the power and potential of young girls, exemplifying the pursuit of success through dedication and hard work.

MVP is inspired by the trailblazing Philadelphia athlete Ora Washington (1898-1971). Ms. Washington was a legendary Philadelphian who excelled in basketball and tennis. She played for the Philadelphia Tribunes basketball team from 1931 to 1943 and was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018. A multitalented athlete, she was also the American Tennis Association’s National Women’s Tennis Champion every year from 1925 to 1937. Ms. Washington’s achievements in the face of racial oppression and its systemic obstacles to equal opportunity embody the narrative of determination triumphing over injustice.

“Philadelphia inspired the development of my professional practice as an artist,” said Brian McCutcheon. “Drawing from my experiences living in South Philadelphia, it’s been an honor create this monument to the youth of the Smith Playground community. The figurative statue and dedication to Ora Washington represent the resilience of Philadelphian youth throughout the city.”

This Percent for Art opportunity was announced nationally to artists and artist teams as an open Call to Artists in December 2017. Of 52 applicants, four finalists were selected to present proposals. The selection panel included: Cavin Jones, Artist; Ife Nii Owoo, Artist; Jennie Shanker, Artist and Professor, Tyler University. The Advisory Panel included representatives from: The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Make the World Better, and a conservator from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The selection panel unanimously voted in favor of McCutcheon’s proposal.

“The children and teens that come to Smith Playground everyday can see and be inspired by this powerful sculpture that looks like someone in their community,” said Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer. “My hope is, like the Rocky statue, MVP will become a local destination where people will come, replicate the pose, take photos, or selfies and if only for a moment feel like a MVP – a most valuable player.”

The unveiling of MVP kicked off a series of programs presented by the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority as part of the 60th Anniversary of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art Programs, the first in the nation. MVP is the newest of the “Percent for Art 60″, a selection of 60 public artworks commissioned through the Percent for Art Programs. The “Percent for Art 60″ are in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia and represents 60 years of public art created in a diversity of mediums, subject matter, scale and intent. In addition to the unveiling of MVP, the “Percent for Art 60” celebratory programs include:

  • Public Art Trivia on the jumbo digital screen at Commerce Square made possible with the support of Brandywine Realty Trust.
  • An Interactive Map to take self-guided tours of Philadelphia’s public art throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.
  • A social media Scavenger Hunt with cool prizes for the winner.
  • An exhibition opening on September 19 at the Center for Architecture + Design.
  • And a Panel Discussion with public artists on November 7.

To learn more about how to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art Programs, visit creativephl.org or philadelphiaredevelopmentauthority.org.

About the Artist
Brian McCutcheon is an Indianapolis-based artist and founder of Ignition Arts, LLC, which specializes in large-scale public art commissions. Living for a decade in South Philadelphia, McCutcheon considers Philadelphia a fundamental influence on his work. He has been the recipient of a number of grants, awards, and artist residencies, including a 2010-11 Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant and a summer 2009 residency at Sculpture Space in Utica, New York. Over the past decade, his work has been featured in a wide range of exhibitions on a national and international scale.

About the Percent for Art Program
Enacted in 1959, the City’s Percent for Art ordinance requires that one percent of the total dollar amount of any construction project that includes City funds be devoted to the commissioning of site-specific public art. The intent of the Percent for Art Ordinance is to enhance the City’s public environment by incorporating exceptional site-specific works of art.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program works with developers building on land purchased from or acquired by the PRA to commission original works of public art across the city.  The PRA’s Public art can be found in such diverse developments as high-rise commercial and residential towers, universities, parks and hotels.

The City of Philadelphia Celebrates 60 Years of Percent for Art

Spring 2019
The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) are celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the nation’s first Percent for Art Programs.

In 1959, Philadelphia pioneered the Percent for Art model requiring the inclusion of site-specific public art in new construction or major renovation projects in the amount of one percent of the total budget. The charge of the Percent for Art Program is to commission outstanding and enduring artworks, which respond specifically to public spaces and communities. This groundbreaking model has been replicated in cities across the country, reflecting our collective desire to experience visual art as a component of the built environment.

“As the first city in the nation to establish the Percent for Art model, Philadelphia is proud to recognize this important milestone,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The public art commissioned through the Percent for Art Programs connect our citizens to these public spaces.”

Both the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s and the City’s Percent for Art Programs were established in 1959 – the PRA’s began in March and the City’s in December. The PRA’s Percent for Art requirement mandated that at least one percent of the building construction costs be allocated to the commissioning of original site-specific public art. Similarly, the City’s Percent for Art ordinance required that “an amount not to exceed” one percent of the total dollar amount of any City-funded construction project be devoted to original site-specific public art.

Philadelphia is home to an unparalleled collection of public art in every medium including sculptures, memorials, art glass, kinetic works and murals throughout all areas of the city. Over 650 of these artworks were commissioned through the City’s Percent for Art Programs. Committed to the principle that art should be available to all of Philadelphia’s communities, the Percent for Art Programs have brought professional visual artists’ work to residential buildings, educational campuses, libraries, recreation centers and other civic spaces in every neighborhood. Believed to be the oldest and largest collection of public art in the United States, our extraordinary collection tells the story of Philadelphia’s rich history and diversity and reflects Philadelphia’s long-standing commitment to arts and culture.

“Philadelphia’s unrivaled public art collection is the result of the collective efforts of local arts organizations, civic groups, and visionary individuals and illustrates our enduring belief in the value of art in everyday life,” said Margot Berg, Public Art Director. “Marking the 60th Anniversary of the Percent for Art Programs is an opportunity to recognize our city’s remarkable collection and to celebrate our reputation as the greatest public art city in the nation.”

The activities celebrating the 60th Anniversary begin with the Percent for Art 60, a selection of 60 public artworks commissioned through OACCE and PRA’s Percent for Art Programs. “The Percent for Art 60 represent the diversity in the types of public art in neighborhoods throughout the city and showcases a progression of public art since 1959,” said Julia Guerrero, Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program. The Percent for Art 60 will be highlighted through anniversary activities happening this year.

60th Anniversary activities include:

  • Percent for Art 60 Interactive Map – The Percent for Art 60 will be highlighted in a new online map. Visit the interactive map to learn more about the artist, location, and details about each artwork. The map can be used for self-guided tours and to find the Percent for Art 60 in your neighborhood. Map launch-date to be announced.
  • #PercentForArt60 Photo Contest – Philadelphians and visitors alike are invited to snap and share their images of the #PercentForArt60 to join in the 60th Anniversary celebration. Participants can use the online map to find the #PercentForArt60 throughout the city. Share your images on social media using #PercentForArt60 to be part of the fun!
  • New Percent for Art Dedications – The public artworks commissioned through OACCE’s and PRA’s Percent for Art Programs that are unveiled and dedicated this year will be highlighted as part of the 60th Anniversary.
  • 60th Anniversary Exhibition – Planned for this fall, an exhibition will feature a visual timeline of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art program over the past 60 years. The multi-media exhibit will include video, past proposal documents and models for visitors to learn more about the history of this groundbreaking program.
  • 60th Anniversary Reception & Panel Discussion – The closing reception of the 60th Anniversary exhibition will feature a panel discussion and serve as the key event of the Percent for Art 60th Anniversary. The panel discussion will celebrate the role of public art, discuss how it has changed in the past 60 years and imagine how it can continue to evolve in the future.

To stay up-to-date about Percent for Art 60th Anniversary announcements or additional events, visit creativephl.org/percentforart60 or PRA’s Percent for Art.

About the Percent for Art Programs
The City’s Percent for Art ordinance requires that one percent of the total dollar amount of any construction project that includes City funds be devoted to the commissioning of site-specific public art. The intent of the Percent for Art Ordinance is to enhance the City’s public environment by incorporating exceptional site-specific works of art. 
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program works with developers building on land purchased from or acquired by the PRA to commission original works of public art across the city.  The PRA’s Public art can be found in such diverse developments as high-rise commercial and residential towers, universities, parks and hotels.

About City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) supports and promotes arts, culture and the creative industries; develops partnerships that ensure culture and creativity are essential components of Philadelphia’s community revitalization, education, and economic development strategies; and links Philadelphians to cultural resources and opportunities. For more information about the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, visit CreativePHL.org and follow @CreativePHL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) is the City’s implementation arm for community development, and partner agency with the Department of Planning & Development. Established in 1945, PRA has a rich history and involvement with many of the city’s major redevelopment projects. Today, PRA focuses on investing in equitable communities and building public-private partnerships to promote social impact.</


Philadelphia Land Bank And Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Partner In Garden Preservation Across The City

The City of Philadelphia, PLB and PRA efforts keeps gardens in the hands of residents.

May 17, 2019

PHILADELPHIA-Today City Officials, Philadelphia Land Bank (PLB), Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), Neighborhood Garden Trust (NGT), community partners, and gardeners announced their efforts around preserving and protecting community gardening and urban agriculture.

The City has been working with NGT to preserve gardens across the city where and when possible.

“Neighborhood gardens are critically important to the vibrancy of a neighborhood,” said City of Philadelphia Councilman Curtis Jones, 4th District. “The reuse of a vacant lots into a neighborhood gardens like Five Loaves Two Fish in Hestonville eliminates blight and at the same time teaches our young people the importance of urban agriculture.  I enthusiastically pledge my support for more urban gardens in our great city.”

“Community gardening is an important part of Philadelphia neighborhoods and communities,” said Angel Rodriguez, Executive Director, Philadelphia Land Bank.  “The Land Bank is committed to working with NGT and residents across the City to be a partner in the preservation of community gardens.”

“Philadelphia has a wonderful and thriving urban agriculture scene,” said Greg Heller, Executive Director, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. “Our public landholding agencies have been, and will continue to work with our nonprofit and community partners to build and preserve gardens and urban farms – assets so vital to the health and prosperity of our neighborhoods.”

“NGT’s work to secure and protect community gardens with insecure land tenure would not be possible without the partnership of the Philadelphia Land Bank and Redevelopment Authority,” said Jenny Greenberg, Executive Director, Neighborhood Gardens Trust. “It’s a critical time to work together to preserve these community-managed open spaces that provide so many benefits to our city before it is too late.”

“Most people looked at these lots as blighted, diseased, and filthy,” said Victor Young, Gardener, Five Loaves Two Fish Community Garden. “But when we surveyed this land, we saw beauty, healing, stability, and possibilities for our community. This garden is a true asset to our neighborhood, and brings the gardeners so much joy.”

A list of PRA’s and PLB’s garden preservation efforts over the last 24 months was provided at the event. If residents are interested in learning more about how to obtain a community garden, this brochure outlines the process. It is also available in Spanish.

HACE Breaks Ground on Casa Indiana, $16 Million Affordable Senior Housing For Independent Living

May 6, 2019

HACE CDC was joined by Mayor James Kenney, elected officials and state agency representatives, to celebrate the ground-breaking of its newest affordable housing development, Casa Indiana. This $16 million project adds 50 new affordable units to HACE’s current portfolio of over 450 existing units in North Philadelphia’s Fairhill and St. Hugh neighborhoods, serving seniors, families, artists and small businesses. Casa Indiana’s units are specifically targeted to aging residents (62 years and over), who will be able to take advantage of community social activities and supportive services, like shuttles to medical appointments and on-site benefits enrollment services, to remain self-sufficient for as long as possible.

“In many cases, these men and women have spent their whole lives in the neighborhood. Their families and friends are here. We know that seniors have much higher quality of life – and better health outcomes – when they are able to remain close to loved ones, and in familiar settings,” said Maria Gonzalez, HACE’s President and CEO. “We want to make sure no one has to move out of the neighborhood just to get the support they need to live a healthy and fulfilling life as an older resident.”

Casa Indiana is a catalytic project within a larger resident-driven strategy to address the impacts of decades of deep poverty and high crime in Fairhill and St. Hugh. Incorporating a number of innovative interventions on the blocks surrounding the future site of Casa Indiana and the Richmond Industrial Track, HACE has crafted a creative, partnership-rich revitalization strategy that ensures equitable livability and affordability. By targeting its efforts to key sites at a critical time, HACE builds from ongoing and recent efforts to address areas that have been identified by residents and stakeholders as the most challenging and repeat problem areas in the neighborhood, and transforms them into long-term assets for inclusive neighborhood growth.

Casa Indiana is made possible through funding from the Philadelphia Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), the National Equity Fund, Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), PA Department of Community and Economic Development (PA DCED), and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

Presby’s Inspired Life Revitalizes City Block With Low-Income Senior Housing In South Philadelphia

New Community Built on Mayor Kenney’s Childhood Street

April 23, 2019
Today, Presby’s Inspired Life, along with Councilman Mark Squilla and residents, celebrated the grand opening of Cantrell Place in South Philadelphia. The site of the new buildings, located on the same street where Mayor Kenney grew up, has revitalized a city block by transforming 33 vacant lots into 61 units of Affordable Housing for Philadelphia seniors.

The grand opening celebration included remarks from Councilman Squilla who was instrumental in securing city funding to bring this project to fruition. In addition, remarks were given by City Representative Sheila Hess, Office of the City Representative; Executive Director Greg Heller, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority; Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development; Director of Eastern Region Nancy Twyman, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; Senior Executive VP & Chief Development and Operating Officer Lopa Kolluri, Philadelphia Housing Authority.

In development since 2011, Cantrell Place meets a critical need for quality, affordable housing for seniors in South Philadelphia. A majority of the new Cantrell Place residents waited in line overnight to receive an application. A portion of the apartments were set aside for homeless and mobility- and sensory-impaired seniors.

“There is a housing crisis in the city of Philadelphia, and no group is more impacted by this crisis than seniors,” said Judee M. Bavaria, President & CEO of Presby’s Inspired Life. “It is estimated that the older adult population is set to outpace Millennials over the next decade, and we know that affordable, quality housing is at a premium. Not many developers are responding to this need with more urgency than Presby’s Inspired Life.”

“I’m very pleased that there will be affordable housing options for seniors in the neighborhood where I spent my childhood,” said Mayor Kenney. “The grand opening of Cantrell Place will make it that much easier for longtime residents to remain in their neighborhoods, which is a priority of our Housing Action Plan. I’m thankful for the work of Presby’s Inspired Life in providing access to housing for those who need it most.”

Presby’s portfolio includes 36 Affordable Housing communities in the greater Philadelphia region — most of which boast wait lists twice, sometimes triple, the number of units available. Presby was awarded tax-credit funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency in July 2016 to develop Cantrell Place. The developer is Domus.

Bavaria added, “Cantrell Place is one example of how we are fulfilling a critical need for quality Affordable Housing for older adults in Philadelphia, and we are able to do this with help from local officials and organizations, like Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Philadelphia Housing Authority, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

ABOUT PRESBY’S INSPIRED LIFE — Presby’s Inspired Life, a not-for-profit, faith-based organization, currently provides continuing care and Affordable Housing for more than 3,000 people 62 and better, across more than 30 communities throughout greater Philadelphia. The organization has been serving the Philadelphia community for more than 60 years. PresbysInspiredLife.org

CANTRELL PLACE – Is a 61-unit affordable housing community for those 62 and better, sponsored by Presby’s Inspired Life. Cantrell Place received the 2018 “Best Affordable Housing Deal” from the Philadelphia Business Journal.

PRA and City Officials Announce the Release of the Lower Eastwick Public Land Strategy

Strategy concludes two-year study, combining extensive research and community input

March 25, 2019
Today, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the City of Philadelphia release the Lower Eastwick Public Land Strategy. This report marks the conclusion of a two-year endeavor.  The report had two two goals: 1) empower Eastwick residents through an inclusive process to shape the future of their community; and 2) provide a framework for responsible land use decisions to build a resilient neighborhood.

“While this Strategy is a major step forward, we still have a long way to go toward implementing its recommendations,” said Gregory Heller, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. “Our promise to the community is that every step will continue to engage and empower the residents of Eastwick through an inclusive process. And every step will be made with a primary focus on neighborhood resilience.”

“I am pleased with the recommendations in this report,” said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, 2nd District.  “Eastwick residents have various needs and ideas, all while dealing with serious environment realities.  This report has done a great job of engaging residents, and coming up with a plan that respects the community, and the land.  From community space and jobs to open space and commercial properties, this plan covers it all.”

“Many thanks to the members of the Steering Committee, Mayor Jim Kenney, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Interface Studios, and all of the public agencies that worked on this initiative, and foremost, the residents of Eastwick who took part in this process to shape a positive future for your community. We look forward to continuing to work with you all in the months ahead,” said Heller.

To review the strategy in its entirety, please visit: https://philadelphiaredevelopmentauthority.org/community-engagement/lower-eastwick-public-land-strategy/

City Officials And Partners Announce New Home Repair Loan Program

Providing Low Interest Home Repair Loans for Working Philadelphians

March 13, 2019
Today City officials announce the new Restore Repair Renew (RRR) program.  This program is a partnership between the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) and nonprofit service providers to offer affordable home repair loans of up to $24,999 to eligible homeowners.“Today is a great day for middle income individuals and families in the City of Philadelphia,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.  “We understand that there are some families that work every day, and still need assistance in maintaining and preserving their home.  These Philadelphians may not be able to qualify for a traditional home repair loan, and may need some assistance. The Philadelphia Neighborhood Home Preservation Loan Program, better known as Restore, Repair, Renew or RRR, is the answer.”

Restore Repair Renew was proposed by Council, and created by PRA.  This program is in support of the City’s goal of creating and preserving affordable, quality homes in neighborhoods where the markets are rapidly changing, and in stable neighborhoods at risk of decline.  part of a wide-ranging effort to increase housing security for low-income people, working-class families, and seniors.

“The Restore Repair Renew program is a critical part of Council’s strategic plan to support equitable growth and inclusive neighborhoods throughout the City of Philadelphia,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) said. “People with lower incomes shouldn’t pay proportionately more for basic home repairs and modifications, yet many do when the only financing options available to them are precious savings or high-interest credit cards. I’m grateful to our lending and nonprofit partners who recognize that people’s ability to maintain their homes and age in place helps keep neighborhoods stable and primed for investment.”

PRA selected three program intermediaries and two lenders to support this program. Clarifi, Philadelphia Council for Community Advancement (PCCA), and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) are the program intermediaries.

“For too long, government has overlooked the ‘middle’ — homeowners in working-class neighborhoods who are not poor enough for grant programs but who are also denied loans by big banks. I am proud to have been able to take the lead on behalf of the City Council of Philadelphia in helping to design Restore Repair Renew with these households, along with all Philadelphians, in mind. This program provides an affordable tool for residents in middle neighborhoods and throughout our great city to preserve their most prized asset – their home. In order to stabilize neighborhoods, we need to invest in them now. As we know, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.”

“Clarifi is one of three intermediaries that will be providing direct services to homeowners for the RRR program,” said Jill Roberts, Executive Director, Healthy RowHouse Project. “Over our 53-history, Clarifi has delivered budget, credit and housing counseling, financial education workshops and a comprehensive continuum of outcome-driven financial capability services. The program was a perfect fit for our agency, and the clients we serve.”

“PCCA’s long-term commitment to the revitalization of City and surrounding counties and the economic wellbeing of the people we serve was the perfect fit for planning, testing, implementation, and participation in the Restore, Repair, and Renew program,” said Alfredo de la Peña, President of PCCA and CEO of Mission First Housing Group. “We are looking forward to the launch of this program.”

“There is an undeniable correlation between physical and mental health and financial stability,” said Richard J. Cohen, President and Chief Executive Officer of PHMC. “Helping individuals access the funds to improve the safety and quality of their homes increases individual wellness, stabilizes neighborhoods and supports overall community health. We are proud to partner with the City and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to assist local homeowners to maintain and improve one of their most important assets.”  

The two lenders selected to take part are Univest and FINANTA.

“Univest Bank and Trust Co. is excited to serve as a partner for the Restore, Repair, Renew program,” said Dana Brown, Executive Vice President of Consumer Banking for Univest. “Since entering the city in 2015, Univest continues to expand its presence in Philadelphia and a large part of those efforts is to support programs and organizations that are making a difference in local communities across the city. The RRR program is a perfect fit with our mission which challenges us to be a strong leader in our markets and to be active in our communities.”

“We are thrilled to be a partner of the Restore, Repair, Renew Philadelphia Home Preservation Loan Program and to be able to provide an affordable home repair financing option for Philadelphia home owners,” said Michael Alles, Vice President of Lending for FINANTA

City of Philadelphia, PRA, and City Council Celebrate the Ribbon-Cutting of 16 Workforce Housing Homes

February 27, 2019

The City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and City Council work developers, Mo Rushdy and Larry McKnight of The Riverwards Group, celebrate the ribbon-cutting of the Francisville Workforce Housing project, located on Parrish Street between 15th and 16th streets.

These 16 homes are three-bedroom units being sold for $229,990. Each unit has spacious private backyards, a 10-year tax abatement, and no condo or HOA fees.

“Affordable Housing for working class homeowners is so important,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.  “As neighborhoods across the City continue to change and grow, it is imperative to have housing for Philadelphians at all income levels. Philadelphia’s Workforce Housing Initiative was designed to leverage the value of publicly-owned land to create housing opportunities that will be affordable to households within a certain income level. This is a necessary part of the affordable housing creation model, and I look forward to more developments like this across the city.”

“We are honored to have been the developer on this project,” said Mo Rushdy of the Riverwards Group. “Because the requirements for workforce housing states that buyers must earn no more than $73,000 to qualify, this gives many more Philadelphians the chance to live in a great neighborhood like Francisville. These houses won’t be “flipped” and local residents get to stay in their neighborhood. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

“Our Workforce Housing Initiative is just one example of how cities can leverage existing assets to shore up their core strengths: diverse neighborhoods populated by working people who can raise families and plan for retirement in comfort,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke, 5th District said. “A strong housing market should not be frightening; rather, it should provide benefits that make our neighborhoods better, more welcoming places for all. I am grateful to all of our partners here who are committed to ensuring that the City of Philadelphia continues to manage growth in a fair and responsible way, with the goal of making every neighborhood a community of choice.”

“Francisville Workforce Housing development is a perfect example of how the private sector, teaming up with the public sector, can provide a good product (single family homes) at great pricing for hard-working, working class families,” said Larry McKinght of the Riverwards Group said “This isn’t the first time that The Riverwards Group participated in this great program. In fact, we did the first workforce housing development for the city two years ago and now Francisville is next. We want to do our fair share of giving back to this great city and can’t wait to do more when provided the opportunity.”

“I always wanted to buy a house in the neighborhood I grew up in, but I couldn’t afford it,” said first time Fransville homebuyer LaTonya McDaniels. “When I heard about this workforce housing development, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.”

Another new homebuyer Kris Johnson said that he had rented until now. “To become a homeowner is something very special,” Johnson said.

PRA Expands Financing for Workforce Housing

Construction Loan Guarantee Gives Developers the Tools They Need to Build Middle-Income Housing

February 5, 2019 – PHILADELPHIA-The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) announces the expansion of the Workforce Housing Credit Enhancement —a loan guarantee that helps developers finance much-needed middle-income housing developments in rapidly appreciating neighborhoods.

The Workforce Housing (“WFH”) Program is a City initiative that promotes the development of housing for middle-income households (between 80% to 120% of Area Median Income).

“Affordable housing is a top priority for me,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The Workforce Housing program was created to help maintain affordability for hardworking Philadelphians like teachers, firefighters, police officers, and others who work every day, and want to live in neighborhoods that are becoming unaffordable for their budgets. I appreciate this effort, and am looking forward to the impact it can make on our great City.”

The City’s Housing Action Plan cites a need for 11,500 units of Workforce Housing over the next decade. PRA, which already offers financing for affordable housing at lower income levels, created this credit enhancement to allow developers to build Workforce Housing to help fill the gap in this missing middle of the housing spectrum. To date, the Workforce Housing program has resulted in 142 units of housing that has been completed or in development.

“At our core, Philadelphia is a city of workers, so we must do everything we can to ensure our neighborhoods remain accessible and inclusive – particularly in times of sharp high-end real estate growth. Supporting workforce housing is critical to our goal of shared health and prosperity across our city,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke, 5th District. “This program will ensure that our city continues to welcome and celebrate working class people. In a time of ever greater inequities, we are working to make Philadelphia stand out as a superior place to live, work, and plan for the future.”

In February 2017, PRA tested a pilot credit enhancement in partnership with the Philadelphia Land Bank (PLB). Based on the success of that pilot, PRA is now expanding the credit enhancement to make it more widely available. The credit enhancement is now available to support the financing of any workforce housing within Philadelphia, for-sale or rental, that is built on land acquired from PRA, PLB, or Philadelphia Department of Public Property (DPP).

“Our goal is to partner with the private sector to come up with creative solutions that allow the market to build the kind of housing that our city needs,” said Gregory Heller, Executive Director of the PRA, “This partial loan guarantee helps developers to build, and banks to finance workforce housing, while ensuring that our scarce public resources can go as far as possible.”

“Working with the PRA and the Philadelphia Land Bank has been great,” explains Max Frankel, Frankel Enterprises. “Our Workforce Housing project in the West Poplar section of the City was possible because of this financing model. I am looking forward to working with PRA and the City on future projects.”

A full description and necessary requirements for developers to access Workforce Housing Credit Enhancement are on this website.

Maguire Residence Breaks Ground – Housing for People Recovering From Addiction

The Maguire Residence project will involve the adaptive reuse and substantial rehabilitation of the existing old Frances Willard School a four-story, mid-rise two elevator building. The gross building area is 50,902+ GSF. There will be forty-two (42) low-income housing units, which will consist of thirty (30) efficiency units and twelve (12) one-bedroom units with fifteen (15) units receiving HOME funds. Each unit will have its own private kitchen and bathroom. There will be eleven (11) parking spaces. All units will be visitable with six (6) accessible units, and two (2) units for persons with hearing and vision disability. The residents will be provided assistance with employment, education, health care-related services, as well as case management, life skills, and community-building activities. Five (5) units will be set aside for persons at or below 20% of the Area Median Income (AMI), seventeen (17) units at 50% AMI, and twenty (20) units at 60% AMI. The units will be targeted to homeless adult men, women and persons with special needs.

In addition, the project includes the new construction of a 1-story, 1,208± SF, rectangular lobby. The lobby will serve as the accessible entry to the building, which is necessary for the viability of the project. The addition provides for necessary lobby space without compromising any of the existing historic configuration of the 1st floor.

The project will receive Annual Contribution Contract operating subsidies from the Philadelphia Housing Authority to support the rents for twenty-seven (27) units.  The City of Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services will provide rental subsidies through the Continuum of Care for fifteen (15) efficiency units.

PRA is providing a non-recourse construction/permanent mortgage in the amount up to $2,000,000.

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Mayor Kenney Celebrates First Rebuild Groundbreaking, Parkside Fields

December 13, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney today joined City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and other City officials to celebrate the first groundbreaking for Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (Rebuild) which took place at Parkside Fields. Rebuild, made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, is Mayor Jim Kenney’s initiative to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to improve neighborhood parks, recreation centers, and libraries throughout the city.

This groundbreaking marks the first Rebuild project to enter the construction phase. Most Rebuild projects have been delayed due to a court case challenging the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. In July, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the tax which allowed the City to issue bonds for Rebuild and for the initiative to begin. Other projects that will begin soon include Vare Recreation CenterOlney Recreation CenterFrank Glavin Memorial Playground (also known as A&W Playground), and Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center, all of which will launch in early 2019 starting with community engagement and design.

“For too long we have under-resourced our public spaces,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Today marks an important step in changing that narrative. Now that the Beverage Tax has been upheld, we can make this investment in our neighborhoods. But this isn’t just an investment in a field. This is an investment in our residents and the future of this community. There are many more groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, and celebrations to come. Our residents have waited long enough and the time has come to provide them with the high-quality facilities they deserve.”

The Parkside Fields project, which is being managed by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority on behalf of Rebuild, will create two new public athletic fields that will serve the Parkside community in West Philadelphia, including the schools and sports programs in and around the neighborhood. The Parkside Fields project will be completed in two phases. The first phase of the project, where construction is beginning, will convert a grassy area on Parkside Avenue into a practice field. The second phase, which is currently being designed, will renovate a second field for football and soccer games.

“I was a strong supporter of Rebuild from day one,” said Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. “The opportunity to provide new recreation space in the 4th District is critical for the growth and development of area youth. Area schools will now have a field to call their own. Not every kid will have a chance to go to Disney World but they should have access to a clean, modern and safe recreation space. I am incredibly excited that the first Rebuild project will be right here in the 4th District.”

In addition to the benefits that the new fields will bring to the community, the project will also advance Rebuild’s goals for diversity and inclusion. The project is expected to meet Rebuild’s goals for participation of minority-owned businesses and exceed the goals for participation of woman-owned businesses.

“The promise of Rebuild goes beyond fixing our parks, recreation centers, and libraries,” said Nicole Westerman, executive director for Rebuild. “This historic investment allows us to provide diverse businesses – which are often underrepresented on public works projects — with opportunities to strengthen and grow their businesses through work on Rebuild projects.”

Last month, the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID) issued bonds for Rebuild on behalf of the City. The issuance provided $85.6 million in funding for Rebuild and represented the first of three expected borrowings for the initiative, all of which are made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. The new funding will allow for more projects to start across Philadelphia in the coming months.

“The Parkside Fields project will radically improve the quality of athletic opportunities for Parkside residents, youth sports leagues, and students from nearby schools,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner, Kathryn Ott Lovell. “This first Rebuild groundbreaking is a watershed moment not just for the Parkside community, but for all Philadelphians. It marks the beginning of a surge of significant capital and community investments at Parks & Recreation facilities across the city, a surge that is long overdue.”

Community members and businesses interested in receiving project updates, event notifications, or contracting opportunities can sign up for Rebuild’s email list and visit the Rebuild website.

Frankel Enterprises Begins Construction on The West Poplar Homes

Monday, November 26 at 11:00 am

Plans for 26 Single Family Workforce Homes Unveiled

Frankel Enterprises unveils plans for The West Poplar Homes, workforce housing development comprised of 26 single family homes priced below $230,000, at North 11th and Wallace Streets in the West Poplar neighborhood.  In partnership with Philadelphia Land Bank, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Frankel Enterprises is committed to creating quality housing opportunities for Philadelphia residents.

The West Poplar Homes will feature modern red-brick façades, reflecting the contextual design of the surrounding neighborhood while offering contemporary amenities and conveniences.  The energy efficient three-bedroom, two-bath homes will include stainless steel appliances, sleek fixtures as well as patios and private rear yards. Mural Arts Philadelphia, in conjunction with local residents, will create community-focused public art to echo neighborhood values.

“Investing in Philadelphia’s future has always been paramount to our mission. The West Poplar Homes have a special significance for our company, as we emphasize our focus on opportunities in this city. I am thrilled to partner with Philadelphia Land Bank, while working with City Council President Darrell Clarke to ensure working families have an opportunity to afford high quality housing in their community,” explains Zachary Frankel.

“The Philadelphia Land Bank is excited to partner with Frankel Enterprises to develop over 20 units of workforce housing,” said Angel Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Land Bank. “This development helps place City-owned land back into productive use, while increasing the city’s housing stock. Workforce housing is vital to keeping our communities affordable for working individuals and families in great communities such as West Poplar.”

The West Poplar Homes signify a reenergized focus by Frankel Enterprises in real estate development in Philadelphia. Max Frankel and Zachary Frankel will lead the company’s strategic efforts in the region. Construction financing for the project was provided by The Reinvestment Fund with credit enhancement by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.

“These 26 new homes will help ensure working families can continue to plant roots in Philly neighborhoods experiencing price appreciation,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who represents the 5th District and has long championed increasing the City’s affordable housing stock. “Everybody deserves quality, affordable housing, and a chance to achieve economic stability to support child-rearing and plan ahead for retirement. I’m thankful for all of our partners in this endeavor, including Frankel Enterprises, who agree that balanced, equitable growth is not just the right thing to do, it’s the best way to ensure Philadelphia’s long-term health and prosperity.”

Frankel Enterprises will host an informational community meeting on the evening of December 13th at St. Paul’s Baptist Church located at 1000 Wallace Street for residents to learn more about how to qualify for workforce housing as well as lending opportunities. To learn more about The West Poplar Homes, email wphomesllc@gmail.com, call 267-571-8519 or visit WestPoplarHomes.com.

“It is an exciting time to develop in Philadelphia,” explains Max Frankel. “Our family has a rich history of building high quality homes to last generations and we are thrilled to partner with the City of Philadelphia to reactivate vacant property to build high quality homes for working families.”

About Frankel Enterprises

Founded in 1936 by E.J. Frankel, whose work ethic, integrity and creativity launched major projects in Philadelphia, Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio and South Florida. Today, Frankel Enterprises is a fourth-generation, family owned real estate development company incorporating planning, financing and construction into an efficient development process. The company is widely recognized for building luxury communities in Florida as well as a legacy of Philadelphia development including The Warwick Condominiums, Kennedy House, William Penn House and 1845 Walnut Street.

About Philadelphia Land Bank

In December 2013, Philadelphia City Council passed and Mayor Nutter signed legislation creating the Philadelphia Land Bank (Land Bank) Since that time it has achieved numerous milestones that improve access to blighted properties for redevelopment purposes. As of July 2016 the Land Bank started acquiring vacant, tax delinquent properties at tax foreclosure sale. In FY18, the Land Bank will continue to align its goals to the goals of the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Planning and Development. This will ensure that acquisition and disposition actions support the need for affordable, workforce and market-rate rental and homeownership opportunities in Philadelphia as well as expand green space as side yards or community gardens and support commercial and economic development. The proposed acquisition processes and program criteria will lead to a more transparent Land Bank and elevated levels of production.

Roberto Clemente Homes Celebrate Ribbon Cutting

Wednesday, November 14 at 1:00 pm

ESPERANZA BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO HUNTING PARK MIDDLE SCHOOL: HOSTS RIBBON-CUTTING CEREMONY OF THE ROBERTO CLEMENTE HOMES
Creating an opportunity community in north Philadelphia

Esperanza hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the newly renovated Roberto Clemente Homes (3921-61 North 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140) at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 14. The ceremony, which took place at the former Roberto Clemente Middle School building, celebrated the completion of a year-long transformation in which the structure was converted into 38 units of affordable rental housing and 5,000 square feet of new commercial space.

“We’re very happy that PHA (Philadelphia Housing Authority) has partnered with us to create a much-needed development in the Latino community. I’m excited for the families that will breathe new life into this historical building.” said Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr., Founder, President and CEO of Esperanza.

Speakers included baseball broadcaster and former professional baseball player Roberto Clemente Jr.; Councilwoman Maria Quiñónes-Sanchez; Brian Hudson, Executive Director and CEO of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; and Kelvin Jeremiah, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

This project completes the transformation of a facility that had previously offered employment and educational opportunities to the neighborhood but had over the years become vacant and blighted. “It will now once again become a community asset, providing quality, affordable housing to Hunting Park residents,” said David Ortiz, Esperanza’s Vice President of Housing & Economic Development.

Esperanza is grateful to the many partners who have collaborated with us on this project, including the City of Philadelphia – Division of Housing and Community Development, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, M&T Bank, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, PZS Architects, Philadelphia Housing Authority, the Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, PNC Bank, the Reinvestment Fund, and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Esperanza is a national community-based organization founded in 1987 by Rev. Luis Cortés and the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity with the biblical mandate to serve and advocate for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). Beginning with a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the unmet needs of North Philadelphia’s Hispanic community, Rev. Cortes is now sought by national and international leaders alike on issues of economic and workforce development, housing, immigration, and education. Under his leadership, Esperanza has grown from a small 20- person operation to a $40 million organization with more than 450 employees.

Nelson Playground Groundbreaking

Wednesday, October 3 at 4:00 pm
2500-34 N 3rd Street

Speaking Program

  • Orlando Rendon, Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
  • Councilwoman María Quiñones Sánchez
  • Robert LaBrum, Director, Design and Construction, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Ceremonial dirt toss to follow speaking program

City, Community Celebrate Ribbon-cutting of Anthony Wayne Senior Housing Phase III

Ribbon-cutting for 45 Affordable Units Coming to Grays Ferry

September 25, 2018
Department of Housing and Community Development’s Melissa Long and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson joined the Altman Group of Companies to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of Anthony Wayne Senior Housing Phase III. The new senior housing development is located at the northeast corner of South 28th and Pierce Streets in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philadelphia.

Anthony Wayne Phase III provides affordable rental housing to those 62 and older. The development offers 34 one-bedroom apartments and 11 two-bedroom apartments. It is accessible via public transportation and is also near several retail centers, emergency services, a post office, and medical care.

“At DHCD, we work tirelessly to maximize our resources to create more affordable housing for our seniors in Philadelphia,” said Melissa Long. “Safe, affordable and accessible housing and services are critical, and Anthony Wayne III meets those needs.

“Anthony Wayne III keeps seniors in their community,” said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. “The affordable development is another great addition to the neighborhood and builds a sense of unity among people of all ages in the neighborhood.”

The development is available to low-and moderate-income households. Each resident can access onsite services provided by the Philadelphia Senior Center.  Six of the bedroom units are fully accessible and each unit meets visibility standards.

Every unit is equipped with Energy Star Appliances, low flow water fixtures, and low VOC paint to help reduce impact on the environment. The building is designed using Passive House Design features. The building was developed by the Altman Group’s development entity, Elon Development Co. Inc. It was built by Elon’s affiliated construction firm, Allied Construction Services.

“Anthony Wayne III is the last phase to complete the city block, and brings the total to 130 units of decent, safe and senior affordable housing”, said Francis Vargas Vice President of Elon Development Company.  “That is something to be proud of.”

“The Altman Group is pleased that our time, resources and investments support seniors and this South Philadelphia community. said Brett Altman, a principal of the Altman Group. “Anthony Wayne Senior Housing is the result of many years of hard work and the public and private sectors working together for one common goal.”

The City of Philadelphia provided $1.5 million for the development.  An additional $12.5 million was leveraged in private equity provided by Hudson Housing Capital and Capital One through the purchase of Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is underwriting the financing of the development. The Department of Planning and Development’s Development Services division also assisted with the construction process. Altman Group also worked collaboratively with Grays Ferry Community Council.

Centennial Village Opens and Transforms West Parkside

Ribbon cutting and opening of mixed-use development

August 23, 2018
The City of Philadelphia, Community Ventures and Parkside Association of Philadelphia celebrate the ribbon cutting and grand opening of Centennial Village, Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. on the 1700 block of N. 52nd Street. Centennial Village provides 51 units of affordable housing and 7,227 square feet of commercial space. Community members, City and State officials, project funders, and Centennial Village new residents were in attendance.

“The completion of Centennial Village is an pivotal part of the revitalization efforts in the Parkside community,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.  “This project eliminated a large area of blight, and brought more affordable housing units to our city. Projects like these impact levels of crime, property values, and community pride.  The new apartments, homes, and commercial spaces showcase the City’s continuous commitment to invest in Philadelphia neighborhoods.”

“Centennial Village has transformed the vicinity of 52nd Street and Parkside Avenue.  The project rejuvenated 44 formerly vacant and blights lots and buildings into a vibrant new neighborhood anchor,” said David La Fontaine, Community Ventures’ Executive Director. “The opening of Centennial Village is the culmination of almost a decade of planning and acquisition, years of funding applications, and a twenty-month construction process. We have partnered with Parkside Association of Philadelphia over the past twenty years to build multiple phases of affordable housing in the community.  We look forward to discussing the next project.”

“Parkside Association has been working to build and preserve this West Park Community since 1997,” said Lucinda Hudson, Parkside Association of Philadelphia’s Executive Director and long-time community advocate. “The Shopping Center was one milestone.  In partnership with Community Ventures, the housing renovation project was the next milestone.  Now we are so proud to have partnered with Community Ventures again for this latest residential and commercial project, Centennial Village.  This will further the growth of West Parkside area. Thank God!  God willing more projects will be coming to the West Parkside area.”

The ribbon cutting included food provided by Star Fusion Express “Home of the Specialty Wing & Spring Roll Bar”, which will be opening in the former Parkside Inn at 5178 Parkside Avenue in the next few months.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority provided financing and project oversight.

About Centennial Village

Centennial Village features new housing and mixed-use buildings on both sides of N. 52nd Street including a 30-unit apartment building, a mixed-use building with six residential units and two commercial spaces, the renovation of the former Parkside Inn on the corner of 52nd & Parkside and the renovation or new construction of seven single-family homes and one duplex.

The commercial space includes 7,227 square feet across three buildings along N. 52nd Street and connects the WestPark Town Center to Parkside Avenue and Fairmount Park. Two commercial tenants have already been identified.

Centennial Village is made possible through the financing from City of Philadelphia, Division of Housing & Community Development, Department of Commerce, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, West Philadelphia Empowerment Zone, PNC Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia Housing Authority and Reinvestment Fund.

Lower Eastwick Public Land Strategy Posted for Public Comment

July 26, 2018
The final meeting for the Lower Eastwick Public Land Strategy was held on July 26, 2018. The Strategy’s Recommendations can be viewed here:  July 26 2018 Final Public Meeting Recommendations

community survey was distributed at the meeting to collect input on the process and will be open to the public through August 31, 2018.

PRA will be accepting comments on the Strategy’s Recommendations for 90 days or until October 31, 2018.

PIDC Announces $6M Impact Development Fund in Partnership with PRA

May 2, 2018
PIDC’s new Impact Development Fund, in partnership with Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, provides new capital for neighborhood-based development, driving revitalization in communities that can often be overlooked by traditional lenders and often need that investment most. Read more about this new program here on PIDC’s website.

PRA Hires New Leaders

February 1, 2018
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) announces two new senior-level employees to join the leadership team.

PRA is the City’s implementation arm for community development, which includes:

  • Building public-private partnerships for development
  • Leveraging public resources to attract private capital
  • Pursuing new and innovative project structures and financing approaches to create equitable communities

The expertise of Larry Padilla and Karanja Slaughter will be instrumental in PRA’s development and financing projects.

Larry Padilla joins PRA as its Director of Real Estate and Development Finance.  He oversees the agency’s property sales, land management and affordable housing finance functions. Padilla has substantial experience in public, private, and nonprofit real estate development. He served as the former Chief Operations Officer at the Charlotte Housing Authority. He was the Senior VP and Chief Real Estate Development Officer for a national affordable housing developer in Raleigh, Director of Development for a large community developer in New York.  Padilla also held the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He has a Masters in Real Estate Development and Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Architecture and Environmental Design from the University at Buffalo.

Karanja Slaughter will be PRA’s Special Projects Coordinator, heading up a new unit at PRA focused on research, development and managing major projects through implementation. Originally, from Philadelphia, Slaughter was the principal for a private real estate developer and worked as a project manager for Jones Lang Lasalle.  Most recently, he was the Director of Property Acquisition and Disposition at the Washington, DC Department of Housing and Community Development. He has an MBA from Drexel’s LeBow College of Business and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Howard University. He is certified LEED AP by the US Green Building Council—the national certification for sustainable building construction.

“Larry and Karanja are experts in finance, real estate, and community development,” said Greg Heller, Executive Director of PRA.  “Their skill set is part of the strategic plan to reinvigorate the programs and services offered by the PRA. I am looking forward to their contributions to our team and the City of Philadelphia.”

City Officials Celebrate New Workforce Housing In Fast-Growing East Poplar

First Housing Completed Under City Council Plan to Ensure Balanced Growth in Gentrifying Neighborhoods

May 24, 2017 
Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Greg Heller, and representatives of BMK Properties on Wednesday celebrated the completed construction of new Workforce Housing in the increasingly desirable East Poplar neighborhood in North Philadelphia.

BMK Properties, a subsidiary of The Riverwards Group, has redeveloped vacant City-owned land to construct 13 single-family homes that are affordable to moderate-income households. BMK Properties is one of several developers participating in City Council’s Workforce Housing Initiative, which seeks to expand affordable housing opportunities in gentrifying neighborhoods and spark new construction in “middle neighborhoods” struggling to attract investment.

Council President Clarke thanked the partners involved in the East Poplar Workforce Housing development for showing a commitment to diversity and opportunity in gentrifying communities.

“In 2014, I challenged the City of Philadelphia and the home building industry to come together and find a way to make sure our real estate boom benefits as many residents as possible. The Workforce Housing Initiative was designed to incentivize equitable, balanced growth, in order to avoid the economic and racial segregation that so often is associated with gentrification,” Council President Clarke said. “Today, these beautiful and affordable new homes are being sold to hard-working and moderate-income workers, who are truly the backbone of Philadelphia’s economy. Thank you to all who share Council’s vision for ensuring every Philadelphian is able to live in a community of choice.”

“This project is a powerful example of how the public sector can partner with the private sector to address pressing issues facing our communities,” said PRA Executive Director Greg Heller. “This project was built without any public subsidy other than a discount on the price of the land. Through this public-private partnership we can ensure a range of affordable housing in every community, bring blighted land back into active use, and allow the private sector to innovate in building high-quality, affordable homes. BMK has been a great partner and this project is truly a win for all involved.”

Eligible buyers must have household incomes below 120 percent of area median income (AMI). For a family of three in Philadelphia, AMI is approximately $88,050, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines. Buyers of Workforce Housing are prohibited from re-selling homes for more than the original sale price for 10 years. In addition to East Poplar, construction of new Workforce Housing in consultation with the PRA is ongoing in rapidly appreciating real estate markets such as those located in Point Breeze and Francisville.

“BMK Properties is proud to partner with the City of Philadelphia to ensure hardworking people continue to have opportunities to live in great neighborhoods close to good jobs, public transportation, and schools,” said Mo Rushdy of BMK Properties. “The Workforce Housing Initiative is a great example of how the private sector, housing agencies, and City Council are working together to make Philadelphia an even more attractive place to live and work.”

The new Workforce homes in East Poplar were developed by BMK Properties and are being sold with assistance from Meridian Bank and Houwzer, a brokerage firm. The homes range from 1,100 to 1,200 square feet; are a mix of two-story and three-story; have a minimum of three bedrooms; have 92 percent energy efficient HVAC systems and hot water heaters; come with Energy Star appliances; and are covered by a one-year builder guarantee. Monthly mortgage costs for the homes range from approximately $1,000 to $1,400.

City Officials Celebrate New Martin Luther King Older Adult Center in North Philadelphia

April 25, 2017
Mayor Jim Kenney, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Commissioner of Parks & Recreation Kathryn Ott Lovell and other City officials joined community leaders and senior citizens to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the new facility for the Martin Luther King Older Adult Center in central North Philadelphia.  The 10,000 square foot building is located on the corner of 21st Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

“This beautiful new state-of-the-art facility is exactly what the seniors of this community need,” said Commissioner Ott Lovell.  “I want to thank all of the staff, architects, contractors and designers involved to make this a reality. I especially want to thank Mayor Kenney, Managing Director DiBerardinis and Council President Clarke for their vision and tenacity in getting us here today.”

The facility features a large lunchroom and commercial kitchen, a billiards room, a multipurpose room, and classrooms for art, fitness and computers.  The construction process utilized sustainable practices and materials including an energy-efficient HVAC system and lighting.

The total cost of the project was roughly $4.3 million, with Council President Clarke’s office contributing more than half of the funding for the project.  The City of Philadelphia, the Department of Parks & Recreation and Project H.O.M.E. are contributing the remainder of the necessary funding. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) managed the construction and development of the project. PRA also owns the land, and is transferring it to the Department of Parks & Recreation.

“This center was designed with our seniors in mind,” said Mayor Kenney. “As active citizens that are a part of the fabric of our great City, our seniors deserve a modern and innovative facility.  This project is another great example of City agencies working together with the community-from my administration, City Council, PRA, and Department of Parks and Recreation, and North Philadelphia community-we all worked together to make this happen.”

“The wonderful seniors served by the former MLK Older Adult Center were not shy about advocating for this necessary overhaul. They deserve so much credit for this day,” said Council President Clarke. “The new MLK Older Adult Center is truly reflective of the vibrancy and fellowship of this community. I am grateful to our seniors for their persistence and patience, and also thank our partner City agencies for a job well done.”

“With this partnership between PRA and the Department of Parks & Recreation we set a new standard for how we can efficiently build public facilities to improve the quality of life in our communities,” said Gregory Heller, Executive Director of PRA. “We look forward to future partnerships where PRA’s construction professionals lead the way in renovating our recreation centers, parks, playgrounds, and other important civic spaces.”

PRA Announces Developer For Osage Pine Project

April 18, 2017
PHILADELPHIA, PA-April 18, 2017-The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) announces AJR Endeavors, LLC to develop and restore housing on the 6200 blocks of Osage Avenue and Pine Street in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia.

There were two submissions to the Request for Proposal (RFP) that PRA placed in December of 2016. After reviewing the proposals, PRA selected the team led by AJR Endeavors, LLC. AJR has a strong track record and experience working in Philadelphia communities.

AJR has successfully developed a significant number of projects in West Philadelphia. This project will rehabilitate all 36 properties for homeownership within 18-24 months of starting construction.

“The AJR team has experience renovating and selling homes in Philadelphia, the financing and capacity to do this project the right way—with a high standard of work, and with sensitivity to the neighbors and community,” said Greg Heller, Executive Director of PRA. “The PRA will work closely with Councilwoman Blackwell’s office and the development team to make sure that the community is engaged throughout the development process.”

“PRA, City Council, and city officials understand the tragic events that took place on the blocks of Osage and Pine,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. “We needed a developer who is sensitive to the complexities of the project and the community dynamics. Restoring these homes is a difficult task, but it is the right one, and the one the community wanted.  We will continue to work together throughout this process.”

“This is not an easy project by any stretch of the imagination, but we are going to do it right,” said AJR Endeavors, LLC. “We owe it to the residents of this community so that we can all finally move on from the events of the past that have left a scar on this neighborhood for too long.”

“I am looking forward to the next chapter of Osage and Pine,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “New homeowners can join this strong community to create their own part of history.  The City, PRA, and the Councilwoman support the developer’s community engagement commitment, and we will work together to keep residents informed as the development progresses.”

The total development cost is about $3.2 million. This project qualifies for the PRA’s Fine Art program that requires developers to contribute one percent of their project costs to a public work of art.

PRA Launches Credit Enhancement for Workforce Housing

The Philadelphia Land Bank recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the development of 15 currently vacant parcels of land in the West Poplar neighborhood as workforce housing. The goal of the RFP is to facilitate the development of single family houses affordable to households with incomes up to 120% of the area median income. This RFP includes a new element that we hope will increase the ability for lenders to provide construction financing for workforce housing. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, as a partner with the Philadelphia Land Bank, now offers a Credit Enhancement for workforce housing construction loans. This new facility will provide a 25% guarantee directly to the financial institution on construction loans made to developers selected through the Land Bank’s workforce housing RFPs.

The Beginning of a New Era for Germantown YWCA

November 10, 2016
Today the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) announced the developer, KBK Enterprises, for the rehabilitation and purchase of the Germantown YWCA, 5820-24 Germantown Avenue.

“The PRA was impressed by KBK’s proposal for the Germantown YWCA,” said Greg Heller, Executive Director of PRA.  “They have a track record of building quality projects in other cities across the U.S. We are thrilled to welcome a new developer to Philadelphia!”

In July of 2016, PRA issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the rehabilitation of the Germantown YWCA. Proposals were scored on several factors, including project concept, community alignment, developer experience and track record, and the ability to create a community-based economic opportunity plan.

“Our goal is to make Philadelphia business-friendly for both local and national developers,” said Fred Purnell, Deputy Director of the Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).  “This developer, while new to Philadelphia, brings a wealth of experience and some interesting approaches to this project.  We are excited to bring a different perspective to Philadelphia’s affordable housing development efforts.”

KBK Enterprises has offices in Columbus, OH and Pittsburgh, PA. KBK is a minority-owned development company that has built over 1,900 units of multi-family, affordable, mixed-income, mixed-use and single family housing. This portfolio represents over $1B of real estate.

The Proposed Project:

KBK’s proposal plans to renovate the Germantown YWCA into 12 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units. The income mix will be 50% affordable and 50% market-rate. First two floors will contain commercial space and office space.  The anticipated project completion timeframe is summer of 2019.

“The Germantown YWCA is a critical piece in the puzzle of revitalizing Germantown Avenue.,” said Councilwoman Cindy Bass.  “Once this beautiful community asset is brought back to life, we believe it will catalyze other development and investment along Germantown Avenue.”

“Entering the Philadelphia market is exciting for KBK,” said Keith B. Key, President and CEO of KBK Enterprises. “We are looking forward to working with the City of Philadelphia, PRA, and the community to make our first Philadelphia project a huge success.

City Council must approve the plan/developer. The developer agreement is being finalized.

Governor Wolf Awards $10M Grant to Gallery Redevelopment

September 29, 2016
Governor Tom Wolf announced a $10 million state grant to aid in the redevelopment of the Gallery, Philadelphia’s primary downtown shopping mall, owned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) and being redeveloped by PREIT and Macerich under certain redevelopment agreements with the PRA. The $325 million project will transform the site into the new ‘Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia,’ a 730,000 square-foot retail space expected to open in 2018. “This renovation project will serve as powerful economic engine for the City,” Mayor Kenney said. “It will create construction jobs in the short term, retail and office for jobs for the long term and hundreds of millions in tax revenue.”

Read more here:

https://www.governor.pa.gov/governor-wolf-announces-10-million-in-state-funding-to-redevelop-former-gallery-site-into-fashion-outlets-of-philadelphia/

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/real_estate/commercial/PREIT-RACP-state-grant-gallery-fashion-outlets-of-philadelphia.html.

Divine Lorraine Groundbreaking

September 8, 2015
The PRA is excited to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the Divine Lorraine with the development team.  The PRA participated in the financing of the development by providing a loan and grant to support the historic building’s renovation.  For additional information please read:

Ribbon Cutting for New Pharmacy in North Philadelphia

August 20, 2015

The PRA is excited to celebrate the opening of the new pharmacy at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center at 21st and Cecil B. Moore in North Philadelphia.  The PRA is proud to have supported the project by providing the land.  For more information about this project please visit:

https://projecthome.org/skwc

PRA Celebrates Habitat for Humanity Project in Point Breeze

August 20, 2015
On July 22, 2015, the PRA helped welcome the Sylla family to their new home in Point Breeze. Habitat for Humanity built five new homes on the 2300 Blocks of Cross and Greenwich Streets. Please read the following story for more information:  http://www.habitatphiladelphia.org/updates/welcome-home-sylla-family

PRA Partners with Councilman O’Neill to Use Conservatorship in the Northeast

July 30, 2015

The PRA in partnership with Councilman O’Neill’s office completed its first conservatorship project in the Northeast.  For the full article please visit the Northeast Times.

PRA Hosts Successful Auction of +100 Publicly Owned Parcels

June 12, 2015

PRA in partnership with Councilman Mark Squilla hosted the first City auction of more than 100 publicly owned parcels.  The PRA was responsible for organizing the auction including the issuance of the RFP, selection of the auction company, coordinating with municipal agencies to finalize property lists and communication with the Councilman’s staff.  As a result over 90 bidders attended the auction where 89 properties were sold with the potential of bringing in over $1.7 million in revenue.  Please see below for additional coverage of the event:

Philadelphia Inquirer: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20150613_Going_once__going_twice__Auction_of_blighted_Philly_lots_is_a_big_hit.htm

KYW radio: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2015/06/12/philadelphia-auctions-off-hundreds-of-seized-tax-delinquent-properties/

NBC10: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/More-Than-100-Vacant-Lots-in-Philadelphia-Hit-the-Auction-Block-307150551.html

Plan Philly Writes About PRA Workforce Housing in East Poplar

March 26, 2015
Plan Philly Article on Workforce Housing in East Poplar

We are excited to see Plan Philly’s article highlighting our workforce housing RFP for East Poplar.  This  long-term vacant strip of Marshall Street will now be reactivated thanks to the Council President’s Office and the PRA.  We look forward to other opportunities to do similar work throughout the City.

PRA drops Dupree condemnation, recommits to Mantua

March 12, 2015

The Mantua section of Philadelphia is a vibrant community.  Cultural amenities, transportation infrastructure and nearby institutions have helped spur recent real estate investment.  However, despite its strengths, Mantua’s poverty rate still hovers at roughly 50%. Public safety, quality education, and unemployment still challenge residents.

Like many underserved communities in Philadelphia, Mantua is also a food desert.  Studies have shown that limited fresh food options contribute to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and have a negative effect on public health.   Residents travel out of their neighborhood to shop at grocery stores, or use corner stores that are often limited in their ability to store and sell fresh produce.  “We are Mantua!”, the Mantua transformation plan that engaged hundreds of community members, strongly indicated residents’ desire and need for healthy food choices.

In an effort to address this issue, in 2006 the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) began working with the Mantua Community Improvement Committee, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and others to bring a grocery store to the neighborhood.  A site located at 36th and Haverford was identified and the process to assemble the development site through condemnation began.  Mr. James Dupree’s art studio was a key parcel to complete this assemblage.

The condemnation of Mr. Dupree’s studio has garnered coverage from nearly every media outlet locally, and some nationally.  In each, Mr. Dupree has described PRA as an agency acting haphazardly, for the sole benefit of a for-profit developer and without concern for the broader community.

I strongly disagree with Mr. Dupree’s characterization of our agency and its intent in acquiring his property.  Bringing fresh, healthy food to Mantua was a desire conveyed to PRA by neighborhood residents, and our efforts were designed to address that request.

Unfortunately, the legal costs associated with Mr. Dupree’s appeals make it impossible to continue. Despite all the work to date, PRA will end condemnation proceedings enabling Mr. Dupree to keep his studio.  While we have explored the potential of building around Mr. Dupree’s property, a viable project under these conditions is not possible.  In short, the inability to acquire Mr. Dupree’s property puts the prospect of bringing fresh food to this community at serious risk.

Despite this setback, the commitment PRA made to Mantua eight years ago to bring access to quality foods and employment opportunities will continue. We will do everything we can to bring a grocery store to this community, and are currently exploring other sites to make this a feasible project.  Further, any properties that we acquired for this development will not sit vacant for long.  Working with the community and Council, we will identify an appropriate development for this site.

While I believe PRA has done all we could to find a fair solution with Mr. Dupree – offering independent appraisals of his property, finding and offering other potential locations for his studio, and payment of all relocation costs – I know that the emotional attachment to property is real and deep.  I am disappointed that Mr. Dupree and PRA could not reach a resolution to this issue but respect his passion.

Mr. Dupree is a talented artist and I wish him the best of luck in all his endeavors.  I can only hope he recognizes PRA shares his deep passion for the Mantua neighborhood.

Brian Abernathy, Executive Director, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Fairthorne Ribbon Cutting

February 12, 2015

Seniors to enjoy affordable housing in Roxborough

October 30, 2014
City, state, and federal officials joined Intercommunity Action, Inc., (Interact) to celebrate the opening of The Fairthorne, a new housing building  in the Roxborugh section of Philadelphia offering 40 affordable apartments for independent, low-income, older adults.  The Fairthorne is a multi-million dollar community investment that is conveniently located near public transportation, supermarkets, and other community resources.

Over the past decade, Interact has devoted significant time and resources to developing safe, attractive, and affordable housing for seniors.   “Our organization believes that a safe, comfortable home is an essential part to maintaining a fulfilling life, and this is especially true for seniors.  The physical challenges and many stressors involved with maintaining, or even affording, a home is a major source of anxiety,” said David Bolin, President and CEO of Interact.

Project funders include the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), Redstone Equity, LLC, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.  The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) provided financing assistance for the development.

“OHCD is extremely proud to invest in developments that help our seniors,” said Deborah McColloch, Director of OHCD.  “It is important to provide safe, convenient, and affordable housing for our neighbors as they age.  This project gives the residents access to many area businesses, and encourages independent living.”

“PRA is honored to play a role in this development,” said Brian Abernathy, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.  “It is always our goal to be strategic partners with organizations within the City that are dedicated to improving communities.  This housing complex will not only provide homes for these seniors, but the services to help them live productive lives, and that is something we are committed to.”

Interact is a nonprofit community-based organization that provides services in the areas of aging, behavioral health, and intellectual and developmental disabilities for the purpose of assisting people to achieve their maximum potential and enhancing their quality of life.   In addition to affordable housing, Journey’s Way, Interact’s older adult division and service provider for The Fairthorne, provides a state of the art senior center that will provide a variety of aging resources and services to the new residents.  Journey’s Way offers an innovative, national award winning counseling program for seniors and a multitude of resources designed to assist older residents remain safe, healthy, and involved in their communities.

Groundbreaking of AQ Rittenhouse, Residential, Commercial and Community Development on Chestnut Street

April 9, 2014

Former YWCA Annex Site, once blight, now being revitalized

Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Aquinas Realty Partners, and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority hosted a groundbreaking for the redevelopment of 2017-2023 Chestnut Street into AQ Rittenhouse, a 12 story, 110-unit first class luxury mixed-use multi-family apartment building with street level retail/restaurant and lower level space for of the Freire Charter School. The property formerly housed the YWCA Annex, and was a great source of blight for a number of years.  The demolition of the existing dilapidated building was completed March 2014. Aquinas Realty Partners purchased the property from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) in 2013.

“Removing blight is vital to revitalizing Philadelphia,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  “…and replacing the dilapidated building that was here with housing, retail and a top notch charter school is a major step forward for this street, this neighborhood, and this City.  This development means construction jobs and permanent jobs, and is another piece in the revitalization of Chestnut Street.”

“Aquinas is grateful for the partnerships forged with the City of Philadelphia, PRA, Center City Residents Association (CCRA), Girard Estate under the direction of the Board of City Trust, and Freire Charter School,” said Leonard S. Poncia, president of Aquinas.  “It’s a fantastic location in a neighborhood where demand is very strong for residential rental, retail, and restaurants. The variety of apartments and the new street level retail/restaurant space that AQ Rittenhouse will provide is in high demand in Center City.  We are excited about the design BLTa and Stampfl have created for this very unique opportunity.” BLT Architects (BLTa) is a Philadelphia-based architectural and interior design firm and Stampfl Associates is an architectural and planning firm located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. “This is an area that continues to blossom.”

The building will be designed to qualify for silver certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – LEED – program of the U.S. Green Building Council.  Amenities will include fitness center, dog wash, wifi internet throughout common areas, roof top community gathering facility and roof deck sky terrace with hot tub, grills and fire pits, 2nd Floor outdoor center courtyard gathering area and garden, extensive bicycle storage and repair shop, secure covered and gated car share parking on site.

“AQ Rittenhouse is a major milestone in the revitalization of the 2000-block of Chestnut Street,” said Brian Abernathy, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA).  “PRA is pleased that, not only were we able to return this property to productive use, but also we were able to do so in a way that will dramatically change this stretch of Chestnut Street.”