PHA Opens Phase I of Spectacular New Development Schuylkill Falls
Governor Rendell congratulates PHA Executive Director Carl Greene on the grand opening of the new Schuylkill Falls development.

PHA does a rare, twilight ribbon cutting.

New Schuylkill Falls townhouses grace the evening sky.
PHILADELPHIA, PA - Continuing its quest to convert old projects into beautiful new communities, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) today opened Phase I of the new Schuylkill Falls housing development. The community is situated on a hill overlooking the Schuylkill River and Fairmount Park, in the citys East Falls section.

PHA Executive Director Carl Greene credits members of the East Falls community with supporting the new development after a shaky start in which a neighborhood group filed suit to stop construction. At first, people were concerned that PHA was going to build an old style project like the old Schuylkill Falls, said Greene. But after hearing their concerns and showing them our plans we were able to work out an agreement that benefits PHA residents and gives the neighborhood a boost at the same time, Greene said.

The original two high-rise apartment buildings of Schuylkill Falls were demolished in December 1996. Conditions at the complex had deteriorated so badly that no residents had lived there since 1976. Phase I of the new Schuylkill Falls is comprised of 135 rental homes. A senior building at the bottom of the hill features 40 one-bedroom apartments. The family units in the townhouse structures feature 50 two-bedroom and 45 three-bedroom homes.

The next phase of the development will include homes for sale. The precise number of homes hasnt been determined yet, but PHA hopes the combination of rental and homeownership units in all three phases will total about 250. At least half of the new homes in Phase II will be sold at market rate with no subsidy. The remainder will be sold at lower prices based on families incomes. Like other new PHA communities, the townhouses will have front and rear yards and porches.

Schuylkill Falls also includes 17,500 feet of new retail space. Carolyn Sutton, president of the East Falls Development Corporation, said she is excited for what that means for the neighborhood. We believe the new stores and the entire development will bring new vibrancy to our developing Ridge Avenue commercial corridor and the entire East Falls community, said Sutton.

Primary funding for Schuylkill Falls came from the federal HOPE VI program, an initiative begun in 1993 to spur development in blighted neighborhoods by replacing decaying public housing projects with mixed-income housing communities. Schuylkill Falls is one of four HOPE VI sites in Philadelphia, along with Martin Luther King Plaza in South Philadelphia, Richard Allen Homes in North Philadelphia and Lucien E. Blackwell Homes (formerly Mill Creek) in West Philadelphia.

The cost of construction will depend on how many homes ultimately are built, but Hope VI funding accounted for the first $26 million dollars. Costs included demolishing the two high-rise towers as well as the old low-rise units plus building all new infrastructure, homes and the retail space

With HOPE VI money now scarce, PHA has turned to other approaches to raise capital to continue its construction plans. One such method is to divert money earmarked for Section 8 rental vouchers for use in building new units. The two companies marketing Schuylkill Falls Phase I, Universal Community Homes and Pennrose Development plan to change the name of the community to Falls Ridge.

About PHA

PHA is transforming public housing in the city of Philadelphia. As the nation's fourth largest public housing agency serving more than 70,000 residents, PHA is the first housing authority in the U. S. designated by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) of the National Association of Realtors as an "Accredited Management Organization." This designation is awarded to firms engaged in property management that have met IREM's high standards in the areas of education, experience, integrity and financial stability.