State Sen. Mike Stack thinks that it’ll be another “two or three months” before the Philadelphia Housing Authority decides what to do with the former site of the Liddonfield Homes public housing complex in Upper Holmesburg.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association on June 21, Stack (D-5th dist.) said that he’s “still supporting the Holy Family (University) plan,” although he believes PHA wants more “affordable” or government-subsidized housing there.
PHA is trying to sell the 32-acre tract to a developer or group of developers. The public housing agency issued a request for proposals last year. Bids were due on Jan. 7. The agency gave itself 180 days to choose a winning bidder or bidders. It also may opt to reject all bids.
If Stack is correct, the agency will not meet the 180-day, July 5 deadline.
Neighbors largely support a redevelopment proposal by Bensalem-based BSI Construction on behalf of Holy Family University. That plan features dormitory-style university housing and retail stores along Torresdale Avenue, athletic fields on the interior of the property along Megargee Street, as well as assisted living housing for seniors at the rear of the site along Cottage Street.
ldquo;What we’ve been told, the essential defect (in the Holy Family plan) is the number of affordable housing units in the plan has to be more significant, or (the number) has been non-existent,” Stack said.
The civic association has long opposed subsidized housing due to fears that it would attract crime, drugs and quality-of- life problems to the community and would hurt property values. Neighbors have said they’d be willing to accept age-restricted low-income housing for senior citizens.
Previously, UHCA president Stan Cywinski reported to residents that another developer under consideration, Plymouth Meeting-based Roizman Development Inc., has proposed low-income housing. Roizman plans to redevelop only a portion of the 32-acre tract, Cywinski said.
The firm specializes in income-restricted housing projects, including government-funded public housing. Its Web site reports that since 1988 it has built 17 developments in seven states and the District of Columbia with a combined 3,000 “high-quality rental units.” Of that portfolio, “90 percent are designated to low and moderate income households.”
Company founder Israel Roizman is a major political contributor on the national level. During the current 2011-12 campaign cycle, he has given more than $70,400 to federal candidates, the vast majority Democrats, including $35,800 to the Obama Victory Fund and $20,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In 2009-10, he gave $105,600 to federal-level campaigns.
BSI Construction co-owner John Parsons has donated $6,500 to federal campaigns in the current election cycle and gave $15,709 during the 2009-10 cycle. His business partner, Charles Calvanese, made no contributions during those periods, according to Federal Election Commission records.
The BSI/Holy Family proposal uses the entire 32-acre tract. The developer and university officials presented the plan to the civic association on Jan. 19.
Stack said that the plans are still subject to change and that residents should be prepared for something they haven’t seen before.
The Holy Family plan “is what I want and I think we’re going to get it. It may not be exactly the same, but it’ll be similar,” Stack said.
In unrelated civic association business:
• Jim Tangert, a legislative aide to state Rep. Mike McGeehan (D-173rd dist.), reported that McGeehan has introduced legislation that would call upon the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to designate a bridge on Torresdale Avenue spanning the Pennypack Creek as the Paul W. Kauffman Memorial Bridge.
Kauffman was a founding board member of the civic association and a longtime community volunteer and advocate who died last year. According to Tangert, PennDOT will designate the bridge upon direction of the General Assembly.
Tangert also delivered a Pennsylvania House citation for Kauffman sponsored by McGeehan. Cywinski accepted the citation on behalf of the Kauffman family.
• Patty Barthel, a community relations specialist for Waste Management Inc., invited residents to tour her firm’s recently built Material Recovery Facility at 5201 Bleigh Ave. The site is on the Delaware River waterfront on the border between the Holmesburg and Tacony sections of the Northeast.
The facility contains a largely mechanized sorting operation for the city’s single-stream recycling program. Some sorting is still done by hand. Waste Management plans to add a “manufactured fuel” production program there, making paper-based combustible pellets that will be used as a coal substitute.
Allison Sands, a community representative for the RecycleBank program, encouraged residents to continue recycling their plastic, paper, metal and glass waste and to register for the Recycling Rewards incentive program. Participants earn points that can be redeemed for discounts at local businesses. ••EndFragment