Updated Jan 26, 2022 - News

New York development firms to redevelop West Philly apartment complex

The West Park apartment complex in West Philadelphia
New York developers are on track to redevelop the trio of towers that make up the West Park apartment complex in West Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Housing Authority

The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has selected two New York development firms to redevelop a trio of high-rises in West Philadelphia.

What's happening: The PHA's Board of Commissioners approved a $15 million pre-development agreement on Thursday with L+M Development Partners and MSquared to transform the Westpark apartment complex near 44th and Market streets.

State of play: PHA has owned the 19-story buildings, which have a total of 327 rental units, since 1964.

  • They're located in an area near University City that's rapidly gentrifying.

Details: The developers' joint proposal for the 12-acre site could bring up to 1,000 new rental units, with a potential option for homeownership, an L+M Development spokesperson said.

  • The spokesperson said 70% of the units would be set aside as workforce and affordable housing but did not define the terms.
  • The units would be a mix of low-rise buildings, multi-family residences in the renovated towers and senior housing.

Flashback: The project was initially limited to two towers when PHA began taking bids in 2020, with the authority expected to renovate the third tower for senior housing.

  • Yes, but: The original plan would've failed to raise enough funding for PHA to renovate one of the towers on its own, said PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah.
  • He said the new proposal will allow the entire site to be redeveloped to add more affordable housing units and create a "mixed-income community with amenities."

Between the lines: When the towers were first put out to bid, City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, whose 3rd District includes the complex, questioned the proposal and called for imposing affordable housing requirements at the site.

  • On Tuesday, Gauthier said she was "pleased" with the selection and developers' proposal, saying they offered the highest number of affordable housing units.
  • "I found the design they proposed for the site to be very thoughtful, especially their ideas on how to improve public access to the site and make it feel like a more cohesive part of the street grid."

Of note: PHA will relocate the 247 families currently living in the towers over the next three months.

  • Current Westpark residents will have the opportunity to move back to the redeveloped site when it's completed, Jeremiah said.

What's ahead: The developers and PHA aim to finalize a plan for the project in the coming months. The authority's board must then approve it.

  • Construction could take between two to four years to complete, Jeremiah estimated.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add comment from City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.

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