Port Richmond industrial site could become halfway house

An or­gan­iz­a­tion that spe­cial­izes in "halfway home" re-entry fa­cil­it­ies for pa­rolees is mov­ing their of­fices to Port Rich­mond, but it's un­clear wheth­er they will build a halfway home fa­cil­ity there as well.

2121 Wheat­sheaf Lane, where the Kin­tock Group will build its headquar­ters. It could one day be­come a halfway house. SAM NE­W­HOUSE / STAR PHOTO

An isol­ated in­dus­tri­al site in the north­w­est corner of Port Rich­mond is slated to be­come the cor­por­ate headquar­ters of a com­pany that spe­cial­izes in re-entry fa­cil­it­ies for pa­rolees. But some neigh­bors fear the site could also bring in­di­vidu­als with sub­stance ab­use is­sues and crim­in­al re­cords to the neigh­bor­hood.

Some in the neigh­bor­hood are spec­u­lat­ing that a halfway house will go up at 2121 Wheat­sheaf Lane, be­hind Lowes and Wal­mart at Ara­mingo Av­en­ue and But­ler Street and dis­tant from most res­id­en­tial areas.

The site is not cur­rently planned for use as a halfway house, but could be at some point, ac­cord­ing the Kin­tock Group’s chief ex­ec­ut­ive, Daniel Faulkner. He said there are no im­me­di­ate plans to build a halfway house on Wheat­sheaf Lane and that the group will only use the site as The Kin­tock Group’s new cor­por­ate headquar­ters.

“The only plan right now is we’ll put our cor­por­ate headquar­ters there,” Faulkner said. “Our lease is up in King of Prus­sia.”

The 21-acre par­cel at 2121 Wheat­sheaf Lane in­cludes a 275,000-square-foot ware­house and 31,000-square-foot of­fice space. 

However, the ware­house por­tion of the site, which is cur­rently act­ively used for co­coa bean stor­age, could be a po­ten­tial loc­a­tion for a Kin­tock Group res­id­en­tial cor­rec­tion­al fa­cil­ity, if a con­tract for such a fa­cil­ity was offered, Faulkner said.

“It may be a year, two years, but if there was a con­tract and an RFP (re­quest for pro­pos­als) we would really go to the Port Rich­mond people and say ‘What are your con­cerns?’ We try to be pretty trans­par­ent.”

A Phil­adelphia In­quirer art­icle stated that former City Coun­cil­man Frank Di­Cicco was provid­ing con­sultancy ser­vices in find­ing a de­veloper to oc­cupy the site. Di­Cicco could not be reached for com­ment.

City Coun­cil­man Mark Squilla (D-1st) in­tro­duced Bill #130387 in­to Phil­adelphia City Coun­cil on May 9, which calls for the rezon­ing of the 2121 Wheat­sheaf Lane from com­mer­cial to in­dus­tri­al zon­ing, which would per­mit the build­ing of a re-entry fa­cil­ity.

The bill was dis­cussed at City Coun­cil on June 5 and is still pending.

But some in the neigh­bor­hood said they are fear­ful at even the sug­ges­tion that people who are gran­ted su­per­vised re­lease through re-entry pro­grams could be mov­ing to the neigh­bor­hood.

“We’ve got enough drug ad­dicts around here,” said Ann, a school cross­ing guard who works a corner close to 2121 Wheat­sheaf Lane. She de­clined to give her last name due to pro­fes­sion­al con­cerns. 

“It’s too easy for them to get out of the places and cross the street and get what they want,” she said.

Ann said drug use in Port Rich­mond is rampant, and she of­ten starts work by clean­ing the stoop around her corner of used syr­inges. She’s even found bags of drugs on the street.  

“Something like that has to be more isol­ated, not near school kids. I would prefer it should be out in the coun­try,” she said. 

The Kin­tock Group cur­rently op­er­ates mul­tiple halfway houses in New Jer­sey and one in Phil­adelphia at Erie Av­en­ue and B Street. Ac­cord­ing to their web­site, that loc­a­tion of­fers a se­cure, drug-free en­vir­on­ment for 400 men and wo­men trans­ition­ing back from pris­on in­to so­ci­ety. They of­fer classes in­clud­ing the Back on Track pro­gram, Job Place­ment As­sist­ance, a Crim­in­al At­ti­tudes Pro­gram, 12 Step Meet­ings, Hous­ing Re­fer­rals, and GED Pre­par­a­tion classes.

The Kin­tock Group’s guidelines state that cli­ents can only leave the fa­cil­it­ies with writ­ten per­mis­sion to go to pre-ap­proved des­tin­a­tions, must ad­here to a strict curfew sys­tem, and are strictly for­bid­den from en­ga­ging in il­leg­al acts.

Res­id­ents will get a chance to sound off their opin­ions about the pro­pos­al to Coun­cil­man Squilla and a rep­res­ent­at­ive of The Kin­tock Group at the next meet­ing of the Port Rich­mond Com­munity Group on June 27, which will in­clude a dis­cus­sion of the pro­pos­al for 2121 Wheat­sheaf Lane.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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