Point Breeze has changed dramatically over the last decade, with many old homes either rehabbed or replaced, and countless vacant lots filled in by new construction. While the shift is obvious everywhere, some blocks really hit you over the head with just how much they’ve changed. The 2200 block of Wilder Street is a prime example, as it’s barely recognizable compared to how it looked ten years ago. We told you a couple years back about the addition of 14 new homes to this block, and there have been a couple more since then.
Despite all the new construction this block has seen, there are still several vacant lots remaining on the block. Back when there was a huge vacant lot on the south side of the block, we believed that the entire parcel was owned by the City, which we thought was an explanation for why it was sitting vacant. In the end, only three of the lots in that sea of vacancy were owned by the City, along with a few others across the street. Just about all the privately owned lots have since been redeveloped. Now, four of the City-owned properties on Wilder, along with 14 others on nearby blocks, will get redeveloped.
These properties, located on Wilder, Cross, Fernon, Reed, Tasker, and Greenwich Streets, were all listed last year on an RFP from PHDC, seeking a developer to build workforce housing. The proposal from Civetta Property Group was ultimately selected, and we can soon expect to see a collection of two-story new construction homes on these blocks, with list prices of $195K. Per the developer, these homes will have roughly 1,100 sqft of living space and will include 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. Moto Design Shop is doing the architecture for the project, and we imagine the homes will look similar to the workforce housing built recently by Civetta in Grays Ferry.
Affordable housing continues to be an issue in Philadelphia, where demand for quality housing at a reasonable price far exceeds the supply. We’ve advocated for more affordable housing for years, while at the same time lamenting the fact that government-sponsored affordable development tends to cost the taxpayers way more than it should. This project and others like it show an improving approach to affordable housing development, where the City sells vacant land to private developers at a discount and the developers pass along their savings by selling the homes for below market value. This is in contrast to relying on tax breaks and/or state or Federal grants to fund this type of development, as we’ve seen in the past.
There’s still a “cost” to taxpayers here, the opportunity cost of what the City could have sold the properties for on the open market. We’d still rather see affordable rentals prioritized over affordable for-sale product, as we’ve said before, since that would ostensibly provide aid to a needier segment of the population. On the plus side, at least these new homes look pretty sharp, so we’ll tip our hats to Civetta and Moto for the effort and we’ll welcome the additional houses on these blocks as they fill in their last remaining open spaces.