A 41-unit affordable-housing development is scheduled to break ground by the middle of next year at the former site of the Liberty Motel in North Philadelphia, a magnet for drug use and prostitution before being acquired and shut down by the apartment project’s nonprofit planner.
Work on the project at Germantown Avenue and Westmoreland Street, called Be a Gem Crossing, is moving forward with the help of $2.25 million in new federal and state support, planner North10 Philadelphia said in a release late last week.
“We’re turning a haven for drug use and prostitution, one that threatened the neighborhood’s, and especially its children’s, well-being, into a landmark of promise and progress that will enrich our neighbors’ lives,” North10 executive director Joshua Klaris said.
North10 is the parent organization of the the Lenfest Center, a hub of educational and athletic programming for teens and children in the area. Beginning in late 2017, it began assembling properties on the 3200 block of Germantown Avenue that included the Liberty Motel, as well as the building that once housed the Carman Gardens roller-skating rink.
The hotel had for years been the subject of complaints by neighbors who sensed that they were under siege by visitors who used its rooms as brothels and narcotics dens.
The four-story development that will now occupy that site is to include 13,000 square feet of ground-floor space for community services such as a market, health-care facility, or recreation center, in addition to the residential units, North10 said.
The government support for the project includes a $1.25 million Low Income Housing Tax Credit and $1 million from a Pennsylvania Finance and Housing Agency program funded by the state’s real-estate transfer tax. The City of Philadelphia is also contributing $2.5 million in development funds.