Plans For Vacant PHA HQ on Chestnut Street

Almost three years ago, we told you that the Philadelphia Housing Authority was looking for a partner to develop their former headquarters on Chestnut Street. PHA moved out of the building at 2012 Chestnut St. a little less than a decade ago and it has been sitting empty ever since, an increasingly inconsistent vacancy as significant projects have flourished nearby. But that inconsistency should soon resolve, as Philly.com reported today that PHA has selected Alterra Property Group as a development partner for this address.

The building

Looking up

As we predicted, the redevelopment of this property will entail the demolition of the building we see today. Alterra plans on building a 20-story building in its place with about 200 apartments and a large retail space on the first floor. PHA will maintain ownership of the land, which will include the parking lot next door, giving Alterra a 99 year lease. As part of the development agreement, Alterra will lease 40 of the building's units as affordable, with maximum tenant income at 60% of the area median income. That works out to be about $31K for a couple. People participating in this program will see 30% of their monthly income go toward rent, with PHA subsidizing the rest. It should be mentioned that the affordable units will be scattered around the building and residents won't be able to know which ones are offered at market rate and which ones are affordable.

Check out the preliminary rendering from Cope Linder Architects.

An early rendering

The new building will be the tallest on the block, dwarfing the 12-story AQ Rittenhouse across the street. One block in either direction are some taller new buildings though, with 2116 Chestnut going up 34 stories and the still-under-construction 19th + Chestnut which will eventually rise 32 floors. Yes, it seems we can't get enough new rental apartment buildings in Center City, and it's a cool that the new Alterra project will include an affordable component. PHA's ownership of the land makes this rather straightforward for the developer, and it makes us wonder whether there are ways to introduce affordability into other sizable market rate projects around town. 

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