By Joshua Ayers, Senior Editor
Philadelphia—Mission First Housing Group and staff, along with residents, business and civic leaders celebrated the re-opening of MPB School Apartments, a historic former parochial school-turned apartments in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.
The 28-unit rehabilitated property garnered historic landmark status on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1992 and was converted to apartments for affordable housing the following year. Mission First Housing acquired the property in 2008 but didn’t secure financing for the renovation until last year.
“Having grown up in the neighborhood, I remember when this building was a school,” says City Council President Darrell Clarke. “I’m excited to see it repurposed into something beneficial to the community, particularly amid the ongoing conversation about strategies for vacant school buildings across the City of Philadelphia.”
Funding for the preservation and renovation was made possible through equity produced by Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which was allocated PHFA and syndicated by Enterprise Community Investment Inc., on behalf of Capital One. Enterprise Community Investments is a Maryland-based non-profit that specializes in development services for affordable housing and community revitalization projects.
“The LIHTC equity Enterprise and our partners provided for the green rehab of MPB School Apartments is helping to support the revitalization of the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood,” says Ali Solis, senior vice president and public policy executive at Enterprise Community Partners Inc. “We look forward to continuing to work with Mission First and our developer partners to strengthen Philadelphia’s communities.”
The community, a former Roman Catholic school built in 1908, features Italian Renaissance-style architecture that has been renovated and upgraded to meet Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, which includes new kitchens, bathrooms and flooring, as well as new hot water heaters, HVAC systems, a solar-powered hot water system that meets the needs of all of the community’s apartments. Additional improvements were made to existing exterior brick and a new roof, front door, new windows, new fencing, and wheelchair-accessible ramp were added.
“The MPB School Apartments is a great historic preservation project that has allowed us to both rehabilitate 28 units of affordable housing for families in Philadelphia and create a tangible symbol of community revitalization in the area surrounding the development,” says Walt Kubiak, CEO at Mission First Housing.