Upper Holmesburg weighs redevelopment plans


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. ••


You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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