May 08, 2023
Construction will soon get underway on a 51-unit affordable housing project for seniors in Chinatown, where developers broke ground at 9th and Vine streets on Monday.
The five-story building will be constructed on a surface parking lot adjacent to the Vine Street Expressway, the highway that has long carved the neighborhood in two.
The project is a partnership between the developer Pennrose and the nonprofit Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp., which seeks to preserve the neighborhood's ethnic traditions and support its business community.
“This new residential project returns 9th Street to the city grid as a walkable corridor while embracing the cultural identity of Chinatown,” said John Chin, executive director of PCDC. “We are excited that we will improve the lives for rent-burdened seniors.”
The development's 51 units will include a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments that are all priced at or below 60% of the area median income.
Amenities planned for the project include a large community room, outdoor courtyard and supportive services for residents who need assistance with language translation. PCDC will oversee programming and community events at the new building.
The lot was formerly owned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, which had issued a request for proposals in 2017 that would have incorporated a much larger area and more housing. A previous plan had called for a separate office complex, public green space, a hotel and the construction of additional market rate properties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that more costly proposal was abandoned in favor of focusing on the senior housing complex.
Pennrose, which specializes in affordable housing projects, is also working with the Philadelphia Housing Authority on developments that are part of the Sherwood Transformation Plan in North Philly.
The construction of the senior housing project comes in the midst of the city's plan to explore building a cap over the Vine Street Expressway to reconnect the neighborhood. PCDC will play a leading role in the Chinatown Stitch project, which could involve the development of parks, commercial space and residential projects.
The city also has initiated an independent evaluation of the Philadelphia 76ers' proposed arena that would occupy a portion of the Fashion District Philadelphia mall at 10th and Market streets, which sits just south of Chinatown. PCDC is among the Chinatown neighborhood groups opposed to the 76ers proposal.
A spokesperson for 76ers Devcorp, the NBA team's development arm, said last week the organization supports the city's feasibility study and hopes it will promote more engagement with the community about the project.
The senior housing project is expected to be finished in the summer of 2024.