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.