Four communities that are part of the “Choice Neighborhoods Initiative” kicked off July on a strong note. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced this week that it has awarded a combined $119.7 million to redevelop severely distressed neighborhoods in Columbus, OH, Norwalk, CT, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. According to a statement from HUD, the money will be used for the process of transforming, rehabilitating and preserving public housing and privately owned HUD-assisted housing.
Introduced in 2009 under the “White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative” and as a successor of the HOPE VI program, the “Choice Neighborhoods Initiative” started as a multi-million planning experiment that targeted poor neighborhoods and underdeveloped communities. One such community is located in the north-central section of Philadelphia and contains 147 low-income public housing units between Berks and Norris Streets near Temple University.
The $30 million grant awarded to the Norris Apartments community located at 2037 North 11th Street will bring a much-needed redevelopment of the building that was completed in the 1950s. An additional $125 million in a combination of federal, state, city and private investment is expected to support the revitalization effort in this section of Philadelphia. Furthermore, a $1 million donation from Temple University will support the creation of educational programs in the neighborhood, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Apart from the refurbished 147 apartments at the Norris Apartments site, the revitalization process will bring more than 150 units of affordable units and market-rate units on several vacant lots in the area. With work expected to start in six to nine months, the neighborhood revitalization project is estimated to generate around 600 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs over the following five years.
Originally proposed by the non-profit organization Asociacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM), the Norris Apartments revitalization project comes less than one year after the grand opening of the nearby Paseo Verde multifamily complex, the first housing development in the United States to receive LEED Platinum certification. A joint venture between APM and Jonathan Rose Companies, Paseo Verde was developed on a 1.9-acre brownfield at the corner of 9th and Berks Streets in the Temple University area that was decontaminated prior to construction. The project was seen as a veritable milestone in the renaissance of North Central Philadelphia, a largely distressed neighborhood with over 1,400 vacant and blighted properties that encouraged crime and slowed down private investments and economic development.
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