There may not seem to be much going on at the former site of the Liddonfield public housing project, but there has been some progress toward the much-anticipated conversion of the 32-acre tract into a satellite campus for Holy Family University.
Upper Holmesburg Civic Association President Stan Cywinski reported to neighbors last Thursday that the university and its land development partner hope to open athletic fields at the old Liddonfield site next spring. Cywinski said he spoke with the university president, Sister Francesca Onley, as well as BSI Construction owner John Parsons in advance of the March 21 UHCA meeting.
“All systems are go,” Cywinski said of the redevelopment plan that the civic group endorsed.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority, which operated Liddonfield for decades as a sprawling low-income apartment complex, still owns the land, which is surrounded by Torresdale Avenue to the southeast, Megargee Street to the southwest, Tolbut Street to the northeast and Cottage Street to the northwest. In July, the public housing agency agreed to sell the land to the Holy Family/BSI partnership, which won a bidding process conducted by the agency.
At the time, the parties of the proposed sale indicated that the deal would require final approval from the federal Office of Housing and Urban Development. That approval has yet to occur.
However, Holy Family and BSI are moving ahead as if the approval is a mere formality. Parsons informed Cywinski that he had met with PHA officials to discuss one portion of the development plan that includes housing for low-income seniors, according to the civic president.
Meanwhile, according to Cywinski, Onley has also met with PHA to discuss how to implement a university scholarship program to benefit PHA resident students. More meetings are expected.
Some neighbors would like to see another kind of activity on the site. They think that the owner should take better care of the natural landscape.
During the summer, neighbors complained about high grass and weeds.
Last week, they complained that dead trees had fallen onto a perimeter fence and sidewalk, but nobody had shown up to remove the debris.
There are no buildings left on the tract. The apartments were demolished with the help of state funding before PHA issued the RFP.
The next Upper Holmesburg Civic Association meeting will be on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall, 8532 Frankford Ave. ••