The Norman Blumberg housing project, in North Philadelphia, has recently been demolished. It was in an important location connecting the Sharswood, Brewerytown, and Strawberry Mansion neighborhoods. It has the potential to be the biggest redevelopment project in North Philadelphia since the Richard Allen Homes/Cambridge Plaza redevelopment in the Poplar neighborhood, east of Broad Street, in the last decade. The first phase of the redevelopment in the neighborhood brought new rental apartments to vacant lots in the blocks surrounding the former Blumberg project. Now, the next phase of redevelopment is about to begin. This next phase is referred to as Phase IIA, and it will mean new housing on half of the site of the actual Blumberg project, which had two towers and low-rise apartments that have all been demolished (a third tower for seniors remains and is being renovated soon).
The Blumberg project is being developed by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the landlord for most public housing in Philadelphia and the largest landlord in the state of Pennsylvania. The PHA is partnering with TN Ward and Stantec to build Phase IIA. It is being designed by Barton Partners. The redevelopment is part of the “Choice Neighborhoods” program, which seeks to redevelop crowded, outdated public housing projects and their surrounding neighborhoods. It seeks to create improved affordable housing and to improve neighborhood conditions. Eventually, PHA wants to build some market rate housing with private developers on some of the remaining vacant lots. The current phase is on a block surrounded by Oxford, 22nd, and Jefferson Streets. The site is referred to as “Parcel F” by PHA. The site will have Bolton Street running through the middle and the redevelopment will reintroduce 23rd Street between Oxford and Jefferson Streets.
Blumberg Phase IIA will have 83 rental units in 66 structures. It will have one, two, three, and four bedroom units. Ten units will be entirely ADA accessible, including some of the four bedroom units. In the middle of the site will be a community center and leasing office, in a small building that will also include a couple of the four bedroom ADA units. There will be two courtyards that will include 54 parking spaces and green spaces. A “tot lot” playground will be next to the community center. The two and three story buildings will have a variety of designs, with bay windows surrounded by metal panels and different colors of brick. They will have white rooves to reduce heat buildup and air conditioning costs in the summer. There will, also, be Energy Star appliances throughout.
The redevelopment of the Blumberg project is necessary to revitalize Brewerytown, Sharswood, and Strawberry Mansion. It will increase demand for new private development and attract investors and developers to an area that had been avoided by them for many years. And, it will build community in an area once plagued by vacancy and blight.
By, Gabriel Gottlieb