Last year, the Philadelphia Housing Authority sold off hundreds of homes in a successful though flawed auction process, relieving itself of a fraction of its inventory of vacant and blighted homes. Despite this effort, PHA still owns over a thousand vacant properties that it clearly doesn’t have the capacity to repair to make fit for residents, and which will therefore will sit vacant and blighted for who knows how many more years.
Enter a partnership between Brewerytown developers MMPartners and Fairmount CDC. According to a press release, the two have come together to purchase ten properties from PHA on the 2700-3000 blocks of Cambridge Street. The intention is to renovate and sell these ten homes, with nine to be sold at market-rate prices, and one to be sold at an “affordable price,” to individuals earning 80% AMI.
In addition, Fairmount CDC has nominated the 2800 block of Cambridge as a candidate for a Preservation Alliance Vital Neighborhood grant. This should lead to a few streetscape improvement projects like better lighting, facade painting, new planters, and additional trees on the block. For residents of this block in particular, the next couple of years should bring about some meaningful and visible change.
What’s most interesting about this project is the joining of a local CDC with a well-known developer to improve a neighborhood. On its own, the Fairmount CDC would simply not be able to get the cash together to purchase ten properties from PHA and proceed to renovate and sell said properties. On their own, MMPartners would have endless bureaucracy and countless challenges to attempt to purchase even one PHA property, let alone ten. The partnership ensures that the developer is able to acquire the properties, and that the CDC is able to direct the developer in the best ways to accomodate the needs of the neighborhood. Hopefully, other neighborhood groups and developers will follow this lead in the future.