The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority has approved the sale of the abandoned, century-old Germantown YWCA to a Pittsburgh-based developer, to be converted to apartments and commercial space.
The deal, approved Wednesday, could end the years-long struggle to find an owner for the deteriorated building. In recent years, the Y suffered two fires and has had unstable brick walls, broken windows, and a hole in the roof.
KBK Enterprises, a minority-owned real estate development firm that also has an office in Columbus, Ohio, plans to convert the 101-year-old building to 24 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with commercial and office space on the first two floors. The building has three floors.
The apartments will be an even mix of affordable and market-rate housing.
"I'm super-excited it's a minority developer that has done big projects," said Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who represents Germantown and has been vocal about transformation of the old Y. "I wanted to see market-rate housing, and this development is going to do half and half. That's moving in the right direction."
Bass squashed a previous development deal for the Germantown Y.
Local developer Ken Weinstein, in a partnership with the nonprofit organizations Mission First Housing Group and Center in the Park, proposed in 2014 to convert the Germantown Y into 50 apartments for low-income seniors.
Bass objected to the plan, saying then that it was another instance of the city's keeping Germantown down by "dumping" undesirable uses on the neighborhood, such as homeless shelters, methadone clinics, and public housing.
The building at 5820 Germantown Ave., for decades a gathering place for local families, was one of the first racially integrated YMCAs. It was shuttered a decade ago when its previous owner, Germantown Settlement, went bankrupt. Arson and vandalism followed.
The Redevelopment Authority foreclosed on the building in 2009.
After the attempted sale to Weinstein and his partners failed in 2014, the authority used $1.8 million in Neighborhood Transformation Initiative stimulus money to stabilize the structural problems in the building.
The project was put out to bid earlier this year. KBK and Weinstein and his nonprofit partners were the only two groups to submit bids. Both bids were worth $65,000 and for mixed use with a combination of market rate and affordable housing units, Redevelopment Authority spokeswoman Jamila Davis said.
The building, including land, is assessed at $1.3 million, according to the city's Office of Property Assessment.
Weinstein said he was proposing a larger project because he owns the property next to the Y. He said he hopes KBK can pull off the project.
"If it gets built, it will be a great thing for Germantown," Weinstein said.
The KBK proposal still needs approval by City Council, which is expected, given Bass' support for the project. This would be KBK's first Philadelphia project.
The developer expects to break ground six months following final settlement, Davis said. Completion of the project is expected by summer 2019.
"I think this is really going to jump-start what's happening in the Germantown Avenue corridor," Bass said.