Effort to sell Philly affordable housing complex on hold — for now
Philadelphia scored a minor victory this week in its fight to preserve affordable housing units in a West Philadelphia complex that's at risk of being put up for sale.
Driving the news: A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request from the complex's owner, IBID Associates Limited Partnership, to issue a temporary restraining order to prohibit the city from enforcing a demolition moratorium and affordable housing requirements.
- The decision essentially halts efforts to sell University City Townhomes, a 2.6-acre property in University City.
Why it matters: The potential loss of the complex has caused a stir in the community, where gentrification continues to push westward.
- The complex was built to provide affordable housing in the once historically Black neighborhood, known as the Black Bottom.
- Some worry that its potential sale will displace residents and limit affordable housing options at a time when rents and housing prices are skyrocketing, and home construction is failing to keep up with demand.
Catch up fast: Last year, IBID chose not to renew its 40-year federal affordable housing contract, which will end in July, in favor of selling the 70-unit complex at 3900 Market St.
- City Council passed legislation this month that places a demolition moratorium and affordable housing requirements at the site.
- IBID responded by filing a lawsuit against the city and City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, who proposed the measures.
Between the lines: IBID's lawsuit accuses Gauthier of abusing her "position and power to coerce a private entity to forgo its constitutional property rights while footing the bill for her unreasonable demands."
- IBID also alleges in its lawsuit that the legislation was intended to torpedo the sale of the complex by effectively destroying the commercial value of the property.
Of note: IBID intends to sell the property to make way for a research, development and life-sciences complex or a luxury housing center, all of which are consistent with the existing zoning, according to court documents.
What they're saying: The sale is "on hold because of the legislation,” David Pittinsky, an attorney for IBID, tells Axios.
- Pittinsky declined to comment about whether IBID is still aiming to end its federal affordable housing contract in July.
The other side: Gauthier tells Axios in a statement, "We remain optimistic as we continue the process of defending the city’s right to encourage the development of affordable housing in amenity-rich areas."
What’s next: The next court hearing is scheduled for May, when the federal judge will consider IBID's request to place an injunction on the enforcement of the bill.
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