We were making our way back to town the other day from Roxborough, taking Ridge Avenue all the way to avoid traffic on the highway. As we were getting close to Girard, we noticed a construction fence on the 2000 block of Master, covering a sizable swath of the block. This seemed like a good indication that a decent-sized project was in the offing here.
Not so long ago, the south side of this block was dominated by older three story buildings and vacant lots. The Philadelphia Housing Authority took almost all the properties they didn’t own on this block via eminent domain in 2015, as part of their huge plan to redevelop Sharswood. Though many of the homes on the block were privately owned before then, most were sitting vacant and blighted for years. Finally, PHA tore down all these blighted properties at some point in the last year.
PHA, Hunt Companies, and Pennrose are partnering to redevelop this block with a 51-unit apartment building. The project will include a mix of 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units, all of which will target low income residents. Half the units in the project will have project-based vouchers, and six of the units will be offered to individuals earning at or below 20% of the Area Median Income, representing some of the lowest income housing in the city. In addition to the apartment building, there will also be nine homes just to the south on Seybert Street, but those homes are not captured in this rendering:
We’re pleased to share that this project will include some amenities, which exceeds expectations in this kind of affordable development. The building will have a fitness center, a community room, parking, and space dedicated to onsite supportive services for residents. While we could quibble with the fact that this project is only happening because PHA took numerous properties by eminent domain, and we also wish that they could have rehabbed the existing homes on the block, we still see this project as a huge win. This block has been blighted for years, and this new building will reinvigorate this section of the neighborhood and provide much needed affordable housing in the community. We’re especially pleased by the inclusion of some project-based voucher units, though this doesn’t put even a slight dent in the huge list of people in Philadelphia waiting for better affordable housing.