Northeast Times

Housing Authority extends Liddonfield bidding period

The Phil­adelphia Hous­ing Au­thor­ity has ex­ten­ded the bid­ding peri­od in­volving the former Lid­don­field Homes pub­lic hous­ing site, so a neigh­bor­hood civic group is try­ing to use the ex­tra time to gain more in­flu­ence on the site’s re­devel­op­ment.

Dur­ing the monthly meet­ing of the Up­per Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation on Dec. 15, Stan Cy­w­in­ski, the group’s pres­id­ent, re­por­ted that the Lid­don­field re­quest for pro­pos­als (RFP) has been ex­ten­ded un­til Jan. 7. The ori­gin­al dead­line for bids was Dec. 1.

Mean­while, ac­cord­ing to Cy­w­in­ski and UHCA zon­ing chair­man Paul DeFinis, the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity also has ad­op­ted a new for­mula for eval­u­at­ing the bids it re­ceives. The win­ning bid will be de­term­ined by a com­bin­a­tion of weighted factors in­clud­ing: the type of uses pro­posed, the fin­an­cial sta­bil­ity of the bid­der and the en­dorse­ment of neigh­bor­hood res­id­ents.

The UHCA is the re­cog­nized civic group for the neigh­bor­hood sur­round­ing Lid­don­field, which is a 32-acre site at Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue and Megar­gee Street. Once home to hun­dreds of low-in­come apart­ments, the site is now an empty lot.

Ac­cord­ing to UHCA lead­ers, neigh­bor­hood ap­prov­al has been weighted at 15 per­cent of the for­mula. Mean­while, pro­posed uses and fin­an­cial sta­bil­ity each have been weighted at 25 per­cent. Cy­w­in­ski and DeFinis did not re­port what oth­er factors com­prise the re­main­ing 35 per­cent of the for­mula.

But, in lay­man’s terms, neigh­bor­hood op­pos­i­tion alone can­not dis­qual­i­fy a pro­pos­al that oth­er­wise meets all or most of PHA’s oth­er cri­ter­ia.

That doesn’t sit too well with the UHCA, which has spent months work­ing with the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity, the City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, oth­er pub­lic agen­cies and private de­velopers on cre­at­ing a long-term vis­ion for the Lid­don­field site and the com­munity at large. That vis­ion is part of the Phil­adelphi­a2035 Com­pre­hens­ive Plan pub­lished by the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion at www.phil­aplan­ning.org.

“They’ve come up with a point sys­tem, a weighted sys­tem,” DeFinis said. “We want more than fif­teen points. We be­lieve what the neigh­bor­hood wants is most im­port­ant.”

In yet an­oth­er change to the ori­gin­al RFP, Cy­w­in­ski said, lan­guage call­ing for a com­bin­a­tion of hous­ing and sports/re­cre­ation uses at the former Lid­don­field site has been re­moved from the PHA doc­u­ment.

The civic as­so­ci­ation months ago en­dorsed that spe­cif­ic com­bin­a­tion of uses — not­with­stand­ing the neigh­bors’ op­pos­i­tion to low-in­come or gov­ern­ment sub­sid­ized hous­ing. They would prefer mar­ket-rate or seni­or hous­ing.

Cy­w­in­ski said he has spoken privately with or learned of sev­er­al po­ten­tial bid­ders, al­though he would not spe­cify them by name due to the se­cret­ive nature of the bid­ding pro­cess.

Non­ethe­less, the civic pres­id­ent said, po­ten­tial bid­ders have pro­posed everything from low-in­come hous­ing to mar­ket-rate hous­ing to sports/re­cre­ation­al uses and even big-box re­tail for the site. The civic as­so­ci­ation wants to keep all lines of com­mu­nic­a­tion open as the bid­ding comes to a close and bid eval­u­ation be­gins.

“We’re will­ing to talk to any de­veloper. Our doors are open and there’s an open in­vit­a­tion on our Web site right now. So nobody can say they couldn’t get a hold of us,” Cy­w­in­ski said.

The group’s Web site is www.up­per­holmes­burg.org. A tele­phone num­ber is pub­lished on the home page.

UHCA lead­ers are also curi­ous to see what hap­pens with the RFP when or if the fed­er­al De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Urb­an De­vel­op­ment re­lin­quishes dir­ect con­trol of PHA as planned in March. HUD took over PHA dur­ing the lat­ter agency’s board up­heav­al fol­low­ing the ouster of con­tro­ver­sial ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or Carl Greene in 2010. ••

The next Up­per Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing will be on Thursday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m., at St. Domin­ic’s Mari­an Hall, 8532 Frank­ford Ave.

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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