96-unit apartment building coming to Falls Ridge site

 A 96-unit apartment building is coming to this plot of land. (Matt Grady/for NewsWorks, file)

A 96-unit apartment building is coming to this plot of land. (Matt Grady/for NewsWorks, file)

A proposal for a 96-unit residential building on a vacant parcel at the north end of the Falls Ridge tract in East Falls has been accepted by the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

The Pennrose Development company will lease the PHA site and build the four-story rental community, says Jacob Fisher, senior developer at Pennrose.

PHA had sought proposals for the 2.2-acre site beginning last February with the intention of retaining ownership of the land and entering into a long-term lease with a developer.

“PHA will be ground leasing the site to Pennrose or an affiliated entity for not less than 55 years,” Fisher said. “PHA continues to own the grounds, and Pennrose will own all the improvements and property management services.”

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Pennrose still needs to complete the terms of transfer and go through the design process, which will include meetings with the community, Fisher said. “We would love to be under construction in 2016.”

Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corporation, sasaysid the organization is happy with the proposal and the choice of developer.

“It will be very good to have people living down there on Ridge Avenue. The more people there, the better,” Snyder says of the neighborhood that runs along the Schuylkill waterfront. “Pennrose can get the project done.”

Snyder noted that Pennrose, which is based in Brewerytown, is well known in East Falls and built and manages the senior housing adjacent to the site. The proposed building will match the scale of the senior building, she says.

Fisher says Pennrose has developed more than 1,200 units of housing throughout Philadelphia and more than 12,000 units nationally. “We specialize in urban infill development, market rate, mixed-income and mixed-use development,” he adds.

Barnaby Wittels, president of the East Falls Community Council, said the group had not yet seen the plans for the development.

Pennrose plans to meet with EFDC in the near future, Fisher says, and will present its proposal to the community as the design process moves ahead. A presentation to the community was not part of the PHA selection process.

“We’re really excited about this project,” Fisher says. “East Falls is a great neighborhood, with great access to downtown or to the suburbs, and to recreation. It’s a great new place for people to live.”

The Falls Ridge site had been home to two high-rises and more than 200 low-rise homes of the Schuylkill Falls housing project. Those residences were razed in the late 1990s.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Alan Jaffe at  ajaffe@planphilly.com.

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