Project update from Norris Square Civic Association

Press release from NSCA Director of Real Estate Development  Maria Camoratto

Norris Square Civic Association (NSCA) is a not-for-profit corporation whose mission, among other goals, is to expand the supply of affordable housing in our service area. The organization was awarded approximately $9.1 million dollars, by the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP2) a grant awarded to NSCA through a collaboration of 16 organizations led by the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders.

A portion of that grant is planned for the development of 10 single family affordable homes on vacant land on W. Susquehanna called Las Terrazas.

Our efforts are meant to help stabilize this community whose strength has been, and continues to be, damaged by blighted, foreclosed upon and abandoned properties as well as a shortage of affordable housing opportunities.

The homes will have three bedrooms with a roof terrace, off street parking and ample green space.

The project will create capital improvements as well as construction related labor and professional jobs for residents and businesses in the area.  The developments as a whole will have a significantly positive economic impact on the community and the City at large.

Another project we have is the renovation of three 100 year buildings that were part of the St. Boniface Complex.  We have a RACP grant to rehab them and we have an application in with PWD for funds to develop the outdoor area to allow for stormwater management including landscaping etc.

Attached is a brief description of the project:

SCA has entered into a sub-grant agreement with Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development stipulating a RACP grant allotment of $5,000,000. Those funds are to support the redevelopment of three buildings on the Saint Boniface Community Complex.

This renovation, across from the Norris Square Park, includes the re-use of three buildings (school, rectory, and hall/gym) in the St. Boniface Complex. Further detail with regard to the use of each existing building on the Complex includes:

·         School: already operational, houses an alternative school for high school aged children who have left school.  In addition, it houses students from the Norris Square Children’s Center on the first floor.

·         Community Center:  this shall be an incubator for small businesses primarily those that provide culturally competent goods and services which include culinary arts, arts and crafts and other goods and services.  The second floor will be dedicated to employment and training facilities including 4 classroom spaces and a commercial kitchen. The third floor shall be renovated for recreational services that include afterschool and adult programs that focus on physical activities like basketball, volleyball, handball, soccer, and other indoor sports. Additional recreational activities will also include space rentals for special events, community movie night and other events designed to provide the community with meeting space and alternative activities

·         Rectory: will house NSCA administrative and program offices and other third party leases as well as, a Broadband Computer lab focused on Technology Business Development – a program designed to provide educational and entrepreneurship opportunities to the community.  The Broadband Computer Lab has already been funded and is operational.

The project will have a significantly positive economic impact on the community and  the City at large through capital improvements, short term construction jobs and permanent employment positions created through the  school expansion, fitness center and program rich Community Center.  The new commercial kitchen, art training space, and computer training lab created within this project will also allow for education and new opportunities for residents in the area.

A projected sixty-five total jobs will be created and housed within the proposed complex. Those jobs will be professional positions, including educators from Big Picture School-El Centro as well as service providers and/or ancillary support staff. The project will also create approximately 78 related construction jobs. In addition, 2 to 6 technical instructor’s based on size and demand for employment and training and computer learning programs will be placed in service in the community center’s training programs.

On the parcel where the church and convent stood, we have plans for a 15 unit coop.

A portion of that NSP2 grant is to be used for the redevelopment of the Convent and Church areas of the St Boniface Complex.  Norris Square Civic Association has conducted intensive research to determine the needs of our community. This research is supported by both census data and a community wide study conducted by The Reinvestment Fund.  All of our research points at the need to create affordable housing in the Norris Square neighborhood. Housing is a critical issue across the country, and with this NSP II Program Funding we will be able to support this national effort.

NSCA conducted a neighborhood survey as part of the Wachovia Neighborhood Strategic Plan plus multiple community meetings to find out the community’s wishes regarding the use of the St. Boniface Complex.   In addition, the Community Design Collaborative produced a Feasibility Study to evaluate the complex and to propose a master plan for reuse of the site.

NSCA based it’s development plan on the knowledge and direction gleaned from these investigations.  We are moving forward with using the NSP2 funds to create a Mixed Income Limited Equity Cooperative.  The development is composed of 15 units with off-street parking and ample green space for gardening and landscaping.  The units are a mix of one, two and three bedroom units.  Housing cooperatives are an alternative model of housing where the residents share ownership of the building and work together to reach mutual goals.  This model offers ownership opportunity to households that otherwise might not qualify for housing and offers a democratic living environment to anyone interested in incorporating sharing and ethical values into their living situation.  Completion is scheduled for early 2013.  

Maria Camoratto, RA

Director of Real Estate Development

Norris Square Civic Association

149 W. Susquehanna Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19122

t:  215-426-8723 ext 11

f:  215-426-5822


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