Planning Commission reveals proposals for Liddonfield, Upper Holmesburg

Four months’ worth of work came together Thursday night at the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association, where the City Planning Commission unveiled its “Neighborhood Goals and Strategies Report” for neighborhood development and improvement.

The report is based on the efforts of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association, the Planning Commission and neighborhood planning team and the 100-plus residents who attended meetings to share their ideas for the neighborhood.

“It’s just amazing what we did here,” UHCA board zoning officer Paul Definis said.” Definis, along with others, has been involved with deciding what Upper Holmesburg would like to see come out of the Planning Commission’s proposals, which are part of the city’s larger Phila2035 plan.

Liddonfield was the main concern for all parties involved, as the Planning Commission worked with the Philadelphia Housing Authority and UHCA to find common ground about what to do with the property. The now-demolished public housing complex sits empty, but no concrete plans have been made for a replacement.

As discussed at Thursday’s meeting, which came after a series of other planning meetings hosted by the UHCA, PHA is set to develop a proposal for the property, which will likely be split into two portions: 12 acres to be used by PHA and 20 acres for mixed used development that would be “mutually beneficial to both the PHA and the residents and business owners of Upper Holmesburg.”

There are five main redevelopment principals for the site, which are outlined in the Planning Commission’s report:

  • encourage home ownership
  • fill the need for affordable senior housing near amenities like public transit
  • connect streets through the development
  • include community space
  • use green building technology

The principals are based on suggestions from the previous two planning meetings, during which time Upper Holmesburg residents looked at maps to illustrate what they want at Liddonfield and other neighborhood locations. Residents had conversations with Planning Commission and PHA representatives to discuss what types of improvement are feasible.

Other aspects of the North Delaware District Plan

Waterfront connectivity

Frankford Ave. streetscape improvements

Torresdale Ave. streetscape improvements

Holmesburg Junction improvements

Torresdale Ave. redevelopment

Park at 4400 Pennypack St.

Feasibility came up again Thursday when a couple Upper Holmesburg residents said they’d prefer if PHA didn’t develop anything on the site.

“It’s not really an option for PHA to divest itself of the entire property,” UHCA Stan Cywinski said, and added that the neighborhood needs to give the Housing Authority a chance to follow through with the planning discussions. “From where we were a year ago to where we are today,” today he said of the Liddonfield transition,” it’s night and day.”

The process is just beginning for the Liddonfield redevelopment, and though the report presented at the UHCA consists only of proposals, it’s expected that PHA will submit a proposal to develop 12 acres of some type of housing and leave the other 20 acres for additional development.

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