Vitus to Give Philly Senior Housing a Makeover

The 16-story building, formerly known as Sidney Hillman Apartments, was constructed in 1967.
John Fox Towers, Philadelphia

John Fox Towers, Philadelphia

Philadelphia—Vitus will preserve and renovate John Fox Towers, a 273-unit community for low-income seniors at 22 S. 22nd St. in Philadelphia. The 16-story building, formerly known as Sidney Hillman Apartments, is owned by Philadelphia Joint Board, Workers United, and managed by Prudent Property Managers. Prudent has operated and maintained the property’s affordable housing since its construction in 1967.

John Fox Housing Partners LP, a Pennsylvania limited partnership sponsored by Vitus Group LLC, secured a $47.8 million tax-exempt bond financing through Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) in November 2016 to fund a portion of the costs of acquiring and renovating the property. Citibank is the funding lender and loan servicer.

Due to an extension of the Housing Assistance Payment contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 95 percent of the units will pay less than 30 percent of their household income on rent. The community, which serves 366 residents, will remain affordable for another 30 years. Six percent of units house seniors with disabilities.

Vitus plans not only to improve the building’s efficiency, safety and accessibility, but also to incorporate Active Design. Active Design is a strategy that promotes wellness-centered communities by encouraging physical activity and healthy eating to combat the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and certain cancers. Being committed to the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), Vitus plans to incorporate Active Design elements into at least 80 percent of its future projects with help from the Center for Active Design. The Active Design elements of the Philly property include an indoor community garden, group activity space with a kitchenette and a remodeled library and computer room.

The asset will receive a new roof, HVAC systems, hot water generation system and trash compactor. The units will be upgraded with ENERGY STAR appliances, LED lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures, new fiberglass tubs, cabinets, flooring and windows. Vitus will also add 14 ADA-compliant apartment homes with roll-in showers and six units for hearing and visually impaired residents.

“At Vitus, we seek out communities like Philadelphia where the availability of quality affordable housing is at risk. We work hard not just to acquire and preserve these housing units, but also to improve the lives of residents,” said Stephen Whyte, managing director for Vitus, in prepared remarks. “We are excited to bring John Fox Towers residents significant physical improvements and amenities that improve the health and wellness of our residents.”

In 2016, Vitus also renovated two other Philly properties, Four Freedoms House in Germantown and Philip Murray House in West Oak Lane, totalling 590 units of affordable senior housing. Since 1996, Vitus has developed and/or acquired more than 10,000 units of affordable housing in more than 100 properties, located across 21 states. A combined total of almost 25,000 residents now live in Vitus affordable housing communities across the country.

Image via Yardi Matrix