Leaders of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association know more than most folks do about the future of the former Liddonfield Homes public housing development, but they’re not at liberty to discuss it publicly just yet.
Speaking at the civic group’s monthly meeting last Thursday, president Stan Cywinski and zoning chairman Paul DeFinis said they have spoken with several of the developers planning to bid on the 32-acre Liddonfield property, which has been put up for sale by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. But those discussions occurred only on condition that the civic leaders withhold the names and plans of the prospective buyers at least until after the Dec. 1 bid deadline.
And PHA may extend that deadline into January, anyway, according to Cywinski.
“We’ve been actively involved in the (request for proposals). I’ve talked to a number of developers confidentially,” Cywinski said. “All of them had a twenty/twelve plan.”
The 20/12 plan is the civic association’s endorsed vision for the site at Torresdale Avenue and Megargee Street. Under that concept, 12 acres would be available for residential development and 20 acres available for sports and recreation facilities. The 20/12 ratio is recommended in the request for proposals issued earlier this year by PHA, although there’s no guarantee that the winning bidder will adhere to the community’s wishes.
According to Cywinski, several prospective bidders contacted the civic group seeking its input, while other prospective bidders have kept their distance, including some that the civic president expects will propose government subsidized housing.
The civic group wants to see market rate housing on the site or age-restricted subsidized housing for senior citizens.
“There are low-income builders interested in this,” Cywinski said.
DeFinis echoed Cywinski’s assessment.
“Some developers want our support and want to work with us and some don’t,” he said. “(But) whatever happens in the next week or two is going to have a big effect on the area, or it could be put on hold for years.”
According to Cywinski, the civic group has contacted PHA to ask if an extension to the bid deadline is possible, so that they can obtain more information directly from prospective bidders before the process moves forward. Some prospective bidders may have asked for extensions, too, Cywinski said. But the Dec. 1 deadline remains in place for now.
• The next general meeting of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association will be on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall, 8532 Frankford Avenue.
The civic group’s annual holiday party with snacks and refreshments is the primary item on the agenda. More information may be available about the Liddonfield site. ••
Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org