Philly Housing Authority officially opens new headquarters

Thanks to the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s new headquarters a few blocks away, Bella’s Restaurant and Grill in North Philadelphia has had a surge in business.

“Once they opened, we just been mobbed,” said Nasir Sabri, night manager of the 17-year-old eatery on Ridge Avenue.

PHA president and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah, joined by a who’s who of elected officials, cut the ribbon to officially open the $45 million office building Tuesday.

More than 400 employees now will be working in the five-story, 136,000-square-foot building that’s expected to bring an economic boost to the Ridge Avenue Corridor.

“PHA’s consolidated headquarters can serve as an anchor institution and a catalyst for social and community economic development,” Jeremiah said.

The new building — with large glass windows to symbolize transparency — is another piece of the 10-year, $500 million redevelopment of the Sharswood-Blumberg area that began with a $500,000 planning grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

The PHA also announced an 18,500-square-foot development in the lot north of the new office building that will include a Sav-A-Lot supermarket to address food insecurity in the area.

A supermarket will be helpful to residents unable to drive outside the neighborhood, said Orlando Vicenty. And he said the work PHA and other developers are doing in the community indicates things are “picking up.”

“It’s going to be a nice clean neighborhood,” he said. “I think people are going to be looking this way from now on. Because that’s really what people are looking for.”

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