The Spring 2018 issue of Context offers a few interesting perspectives in the broad and complex topic of housing. 

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March 15, 2018
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Member News

Philadelphia Housing Authority Engages WRT as Planning Coordinator for a Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan in Southwest Philadelphia Centered Around the Redevelopment of Bartram Village

By WRT
Credit: Google Earth Caption: A view of Bartram Village from the south shows Bartram's Gardens and the Schuylkill River to the east, the Kingsessing neighborhood to the west, and hints of the area's industrial heritage to the north.

Philadelphia, PA (March 14, 2018) – WRT, an integrated design firm of planners, urban designers, architects and landscape architects, has been selected by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) as the planning coordinator for the development of a HUD Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan in Southwest Philadelphia centered around the redevelopment of Bartram Village. Once complete, the project will include over 500 mixed-income units as part of a larger effort to revitalize Bartram Village and the surrounding Kingsessing neighborhood. Pennrose has been selected as the developer on the project.

Bartram Village is one of only six projects nationwide to be awarded a Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) Planning and Action Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and one of only three to receive the CNI Action Grant. The $1.3 million grant, coupled with additional local leverage, will go toward a community-led plan and the implementation of small-scale Action Activities that will benefit the community in the short term.

“We could not be more thrilled to be part of this effort in our backyard – working with community and local stakeholders to address issues of equity, poverty, changing demographics, access to the city’s open space assets, and rethinking of riverfront land uses,” said Woo Kim, WRT principal. “We look forward to an inclusive and transparent two-year planning process that will ultimately benefit the entire city.”

HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming neighborhoods struggling to address the complex challenges presented by a combination of distressed housing, inadequate schools, poor health, high crime, and lack of investment. The goals of the program are to replace inadequate and distressed housing, improve outcomes for households living in the targeted area, and create conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods.

“Bartram Village was once a vibrant home to low- and middle-income workers but has declined from the relocation of industrial facilities,” said Joseph Healy, WRT principal. “We are excited to bring life back to the neighborhood and regain a sense of community.”

Bartram Village was built in 1942 as housing for defense workers in Southwest Philadelphia. The current housing at the site lacks the amenities, layout, unit space, and energy efficiency needed in a 21st century housing development. The 22-acre site currently includes approximately 500 units and is adjacent to Bartram's Garden, a 45-acre national Historic Landmark that is preserving its botanical heritage by reestablishing healthy land and river ecosystems, fostering curiosity and stewardship of the natural world through extensive community programming and its connection to the Schuylkill River trail, and by deepening the community’s relationship with the land, food, and each other through urban farming and food sovereignty.

About WRT
WRT is a dynamic cross disciplinary firm offering services in planning, urban design, architecture, and landscape architecture. For more than 50 years, WRT has been dedicated to improving the quality of the natural and built environments by applying principles of sustainability to the planning and design of buildings, landscapes, cities, and regions. The firm has been the recipient of more than 400 planning and design awards both nationally and internationally. For more information, please visit www.wrtdesign.com.

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