Sharswood Blumberg Transformation

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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


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