Major Affordable Housing Project Under Construction in Parkside

We don't get to Parkside very often, mostly because it's a bit of a hike for us and there's just not that much development to report in the neighborhood. But a reader gave us a shout the other day and told us about some construction activity at 52nd & Parkside, close to the Mann Center, and we decided we'd take a ride to see what's going on. When we got there, we discovered that there's activity all over the intersection.

SW corner of 52nd & Parkside

Looking at the east side of 52nd Street

Considering the amount of construction taking place and the location, we immediately believed that this was some kind of institutional project, probably of the affordable housing variety. And we were entirely on point in our assumption! It turns out that this project is the work of Community Ventures, a company that's done affordable housing all over the city for many years. They're calling the development Centennial Village, a moniker that surely comes from the fact that United States Centennial Exposition took place across the street in the western section of Fairmount Park.

Edge of Fairmount Park

The project will have several different aspects, covering large swaths of land on both sides on 52nd Street. The piece de résistance will be a 30-unit apartment building at 52nd & Columbia which will also have a retail space on the first floor. A smaller building at 52nd & Viola will have 6 units and two more retail spaces. Community Ventures will also build 7 new homes and will rehab 7 existing buildings in the area as part of the project. There will also be significant green space, with a community park at 52nd & Parkside, another community park at 52nd & Columbia, and a community garden on the south side of Parkside Avenue, just past 52nd Street. Maybe we're missing something, but does this project, which sits right across the street from Fairmount Park, really need a community park, let alone two? It seems like a missed opportunity for more units, no?

Project site plan

Apartment building rendering

There's tremendous demand for affordable rental housing in Philadelphia and given the location near the park and close to a large shopping center, we would think that demand will be incredibly high for these units. With that in mind, we again wonder why the developers aren't looking to build even more units and less green space, a thought we don't think we've ever had with any other project. The official groundbreaking for this project took place back in 2015, and it seems that it took a little while for construction to start moving forward in earnest. Now we see that construction is proceeding apace and there's a shot the ribbon cutting will take place this fall, as planned. They are, however, gonna have to step on the gas if they want to hit that goal.