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 firstname.lastname@example.org