On a huge city owned lot at 921-27 Ellsworth St., councilman Frank DiCiccio has proposed the construction of a 64-unit building for affordable senior housing, according to Plan Philly. The parcel is 22,000 sqft., and faces parking lots off of Washington Ave. in the rear. Its frontage on Ellsworth St. is small relative to the footprint of the lot, so it would be impractical to construct single-family row homes, making a larger development complex very sensible.
According to the builder, BCM Affordable Housing, the lot has gone through Planning and Zoning, and is now waiting on Council to return from their (entirely too long) summer vacation to convey the land to the developer, St. Maron’s CDC. The building will include 25 parking spots and a community garden in the back, and fits into the scheme of the Lower Italian Market Revitalization Project, a plan for the neighborhood put together by the Passyunk Square Civic Association.
While situations where the City conveys lots for nominal amounts should be examined carefully, this transaction seems appropriate. The size and shape of the lot along with its location would probably make it very difficult for a private developer to move forward with a project any time soon. The fact that the community supports the project further supports the case- neighbors would rather have buildings than the current parking lot. Looking at the rendering, the building seems that it will interact nicely with the surrounding neighborhood.