The Bartram Choice Neighborhood Initiative joint task force has begun drafting a plan that promises to bring new housing, services, and jobs to the Kingsessing neighborhood in Southwest Philadelphia. The completion of the plan, made possible by a grant awarded by HUD in 2018, will take several more months, with a target date of February 2020 for delivery of a finalized plan.
A high-level outline of the plan has already been sent to the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It showcases the work achieved and the community input gathered so far via community meetings, focus groups, resident and neighborhood surveys, and task force meetings. The title of the document is “Blossom at Bartram!” The emerging themes of the plan outline are: Connect, Live, and Thrive. The vision statement says that “Bartram Village is a special place to live at every age-with beautiful spaces that bring people together, creating a sense of community, strength, and inspiration.”
In late May, the joint task force received a glimpse of what is possible in the redevelopment of Bartram Village. A preliminary proposal calls for replacing the boxy, World War II housing, on a one-for-one basis, with modern townhomes, senior-only housing, and multifamily units. Retail locations would front the Bartram Village site on Lindbergh Boulevard, to promote an active environment for pedestrians, while providing services and jobs to the neighborhood.
There is no timeline yet for the remake of the site, but current residents who remain in good standing would have the first right to return to the new units. This is similar to the commitment made to residents of Norris Homes and Blumberg Apartments, two other sites which were reimagined under the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and which are now being reoccupied by families exercising their right of return.
Meantime, the redevelopment of the Bartram/Kingsessing neighborhood has received a substantial impact grant from HUD. PHA has received $950,000 that will help pay for physical community development or economic development projects designed by Bartram Village and neighborhood residents that enhances and accelerates the transformation of the neighborhood. While housing development is not an eligible use of these funds, the money could be used for such things as turning vacant property into gardens, pocket parks, or land banking; beautification, placemaking, and community arts projects; facade improvement programs; fresh food initiatives.