Sharswood Blumberg Transformation
Learn more about the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant efforts by visiting www.sharswoodblumberg.com
The Norman Blumberg Apartments in North Philadelphia date back to the 1960s. The dense, 8-acre site contains 499 units in two 18-story towers, a 13-story senior citizen high-rise, and 15 low-rise buildings.
While PHA has invested heavily to maintain the property in a decent, safe, and sanitary condition, Blumberg (and most high-rise low-income family developments nationally) has been widely viewed as a failure of planning and an obstacle to neighborhood renewal.
In contrast to the vibrancy and strength of nearby neighborhoods, the blocks immediately surrounding Blumberg includes a large concentration of vacant and blighted buildings and lots, and suffers from a violent crime rate that is 1.5 times greater than the Citywide crime rate.
Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant
In November 2013, PHA, working with 23 partners, received a Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) Planning Grant. The planning grant of $500,000 supports the development of a successful transformation plan for both the Blumberg site as well as the surrounding Blumberg/Sharswood neighborhood.
CNI has three core goals: housing, people, and neighborhoods. The plan was developed with extensive community engagement and complements the Lower North District plan from the City Planning Commission.
The renewal effort received a major financial boost when the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency (PHFA) awarded the first phase of the Blumberg redevelopment a 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credit in February 2014. It marked the first 9 percent credit for the agency in nearly four years. The award will allow PHA to raise $12.6 million through private investment and cover 60 percent of the total cost of the first phase of redevelopment, which will take place both on and off-site.
In May 2014, the PHA Board awarded a construction contract for the first phase of redevelopment.
- Demolition of Blumberg family high-rises and 15 low-rise buildings
- Rehab of Blumberg senior high-rise
- More than 1,200 new residential units
- 420 affordable and market-rate homeownership units
- More than 200,000 square feet mixed-used development
- Revitalized commercial corridor on Ridge Avenue
- Establishment of a high-performing K-8 public school at the former Reynolds School site
- Additional recreational fields/community gardens
- Comprehensive individualized supportive services
- Improved delivery of public education for all youth in the neighborhood
- Improved health and wellness programs operating in the community
- Integrate social services, adult education, and workforce training