Mayor to announce additional funding for Mt. Airy Transit Village

A proposed “transit village” alongside the Washington Lane Regional Rail station just got one step closer to fruition.

The mixed-use, mixed-income development headed by Mt. Airy, USA has won a $100,000 grant from the city’s Commerce Department. Today, Mayor Michael Nutter will make an announcement about the funding, which is part of $1 million worth of city grants for development projects throughout the city.

The plan includes more than 200 residential units, parking spaces and more than 20,000 square feet of retail space in East Mt. Airy, opening to the intersection of Washington Lane and Chew Avenue, and spread out over six acres. It will cost about $60 million. Mt. Airy USA, a community development corporation, has secured $3 million in government subsidies for the project, from the city, state and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“This is one of the few transit-oriented development sites in the region,” says Anuj Gupta, Mt. Airy USA’s executive director. “Anything can be characterized as transit-oriented development if you can walk to a bus line. But on our site, you walk right off it to the Regional Rail and you’re at Center City in 15 minutes, Temple in 10 or 12.”

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The project is also next to Awbury Arboretum, a 55-acre plot of historic homes, lawns, shrubs and gardens.

“The Mayor has a plan to increase green space by 500 acres, to give people more access to green space,” says Gupta. “We already have it adjacent to the site.”

The city’s $100,000 grant is the latest in a series of triumphs for the development project. In November 2010, Mt. Airy USA secured $2.5 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds, which must be matched. That same month, it signed a lease for the final piece of land for the project, located at the corner of Washington Lane and Chew Avenue.

Mt. Airy USA is now in the first phase of the development, which includes looking for retail tenants. Gupta hopes a bank or grocery store, which the community has requested, will be among these first tenants. Gupta says he expects they’ll sign the first contracts for the project this fall, and break ground next spring.

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