North Philadelphia Health System's bankruptcy has put a nearly $13 million LGBTQ-friendly affordable-housing project planned by Project HOME near Girard Medical Center in jeopardy, Project HOME officials said.
Project HOME, a nonprofit led by Sister Mary Scullion that has developed 714 units of housing for people who have been homeless or are at risk of homelessness, had agreements to buy five pieces of land from NPHS before the bankruptcy filing on Dec. 31. The bankruptcy froze those deals. As the clock ticks, Project Home is in danger of losing $11 million in construction financing.
To go through with the sales for $1.75 million or even to reject the agreements, NPHS needs permission from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Magdeline D. Coleman. NPHS wants to do neither. It wants to wait, arguing in a court filing last week that it "should be afforded maximum flexibility to deal with its financial affairs in this large and complex Chapter 11 proceeding."
"We are fully supportive of Sister Mary Scullion's efforts," Lawrence G. McMichael, a Dilworth Paxson lawyer representing NPHS, said in an interview Friday. "We have to get the highest value for the creditors. We think the deal with Sister Mary Scullion probably represents the highest value for the creditors, but there is a process we have to go through."
The uncertainty, driven in part by unsecured creditors owed $29 million, has put Janet Stearns, Project HOME's vice president of real estate development and asset management, on edge.
Since last May, Stearns and other Project HOME officials have been working on the project at North Eighth and West Thompson Streets. Much of the land is now used as a parking lot. The organization spent nearly $1 million on engineers, architects, and lawyers to get to this point, Stearns said.
The first phase of construction would be a four-story building at 1315 N. Eighth St., with 30 one-bedroom apartments for young adults age 18 to 25. The second phase would be a five-story, $14 million building with 40 apartments at 1301 N. Eighth St.