After a few minutes of talking to the Nicetown CDC’s Majeedah Rashid about what’s happening in the neighborhood, one thing quickly became clear: They’re just getting warmed up.
On the heels of Nicetown Court I, the affordable apartment and retail building that opened — and almost instantly filled up — in the 4300 block of Germantown Ave. late last year, Nicetown is taking the next step.
This week, both the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the Zoning Board of Adjustment gave needed approvals for Nicetown Court II, a larger affordable-rental development that will sit on three parcels between 4428 and 4470 Germantown Ave.
Beyond that, Rashid said, Nicetown CDC has its eyes on an even larger project, a vacant parcel a few blocks north, at 18th and Courtland streets. It has put together a list of about 50 scattered sites that could be eligible for home rehabilitation or rebuilding, she said.
But for right now, Nicetown Court II is what’s happening.
Rebuilding vacant blocks
Like Nicetown Court I, the next phase will be developed by the Nicetown CDC with Universal Companies, the community development, management and education company founded by Philadelphia music mogul Kenny Gamble.
Nicetown Court II will have 50 units of two- , three- and four-bedroom apartments and townhouses, with three commercial areas geared to serve the immediate neighbors.
“This is a project that will rebuild both sides of the street that had been vacant for more than 20 years,” Rashid said. “The entire 4400 block of Germantown Avenue will be transformed.”
Designs for Nicetown Court II show retail spaces in the corner buildings at Dennie Avenue which are built taller, creating a gateway into Nicetown. Six of the first-floor residential units will be built handicap-accessible, and all of the residences will have private entrances.
Commercial uses for the retail spaces will be limited to cafes, boutiques, banks, restaurants and pharmacies, according to the zoning board’s approval.
It’s all in keeping with the city’s own 2010 plan for Nicetown, which identified the need for affordable housing within walking distance of the Wayne Junction SEPTA station, itself in the midst of an overhaul.
The focus on making sure the housing units, whether rental or for-sale, are affordable, is central to the whole effort, Rashid said.
When Nicetown Court I was in development, more than 600 applications came in for the 37 units. Applicants were from all over the city, and nearly a third of the families fell into the lowest household-income brackets.
“Part of our analysis and planning efforts have identified the need for affordable housing in this community,” she said. “The need is great.”
The CDC is planning a joint event, likely in mid-May, that will be a groundbreaking for Nicetown Court II, along with an official launch for Nicetown Court I.
Stay tuned to NewsWorks for details on that as they become available.
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