The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) plans to undertake its most ambitious urban renewal project to date. Through eminent domain, the agency would seize about 1,300 properties and entirely remake the Sharswood neighborhood which has been plagued with vacancy, blight, crime, and poverty.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that most of these properties are city-owned, tax-delinquent, or empty.
This massive acquisition would include demolishing two of the Blumberg Towers, a 1960s-era public housing development in the neighborhood. In its place would come 1,203 new homes and apartments, most of which would be designated as affordable. The development—well, the new neighborhood really—would also incorporate a new headquarters for the PHA, a supermarket, a renovated school, new recreation centers and open spaces, and a mix of independently-owned shops and chain stores.
The Philadelphia Daily News reported that city officials will move the 363 families currently living in the Blumberg Towers to other PHA properties. Those living or working inside one of the 73 occupied buildings on the agency’s demolition list “will get fair-market value for their properties and relocation assistance.”
Despite concerns about the scale of the redevelopment, and worries about the PHA’s ability to handle such a significant mixed-use project, a City Council rules committee recently gave preliminary approval to the PHA’s plan. PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah says the project will take 10 years to complete, but that the agency hopes to get going on it this year or next.