As SEPTA trains zoomed by overhead on tracks atop a large stone wall, Mayor Nutter, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and SEPTA and community leaders yesterday announced a $48 million housing and retail project at the Temple University regional-rail station.

Construction of the 164-unit apartment complex, of which 44 units will be reserved for low-income families, is expected to begin by mid-2011 next to the station at 9th and Norris streets.

Nutter said yesterday that the "transit-oriented" development would strengthen the adjacent Ludlow and Temple University neighborhoods and create a "safer, more livable community."

He thanked Casey for securing nearly $500,000 in federal cash for the project, which is expected to create at least 400 construction jobs.

The city will partner with developers Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha, a local group, and the Jonathan Rose Companies, a New York-based firm that specializes in "green development."

Nilda Ruiz, president and chief executive officer of APM, said her organization, which began 40 years ago, has focused on "bringing people out of homelessness into home ownership" for the last 20 years. APM has already developed housing projects in Ludlow, as well as a commercial plaza at 5th and Berks streets.