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March 19, 2016

Implosion: PHA site cleared to make way for better housing

Two high-rises on border of Brewerytown taken down

Housing High-rises
Implosion Bradley Maule/For PhillyVoice

An eight-acre Philadelphia Housing Authority site was cleared Saturday morning, making way for better housing and eliminating two 18-story towers.

And the walls came tumbling down without incident Saturday morning, sending a rumble across Philadelphia and a cloud of dust several hundred feet in the air.

Crews imploded two 18-story Philadelphia Housing Authority towers, according to spokeswoman Nichole Tillman.

The Norman Blumberg Apartments, constructed in the 1960's, were taken down as part of a $500 million PHA plan to replace older housing with 1,200 new apartments and townhome-style ownership units.

The units, on an eight-acre site, are in the Sharswood section of North Philadelphia, adjacent to the Brewerytown neighborhood.

PHA has imploded nine of its high-rise apartment complexes in recent years, the last a high-rise in Germantown, which came down in 2014.

The removal of the high-rises is an attempt to create safer public housing, free of rampant drug marketplaces.

Some residents who were quite close had to leave their homes before 5 a.m.

In the outer “dust ring,” residents were told they could remain if they stayed inside. The dust zone ran from 21st to 25th streets, between Turner and W. Master Street.

Air quality, utility, and building inspections are underway, according to the city's Office of Emergency Management.

A $500,000 federal grant will be used to create a Ridge Avenue commercial corridor and build recreational fields and community gardens.

There is a senior high-rise that will undergo a makeover rather than being torn down.