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Blog Community Plans to keep apartments affordable in Kensington

New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) is planning to build 44 new, affordable one-and-two-bedroom apartments at 2721-69 Ruth Street, beside its offices at Orinoka Civic House.

Plans were approved by neighbors, 35 to 7, at a meeting of Somerset Neighbors for Better Living this summer, and passed Philadelphia’s Zoning Board in September.

The block-long building will include 32 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments, priced for people making 20, 50 or 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). There will be six accessible apartments, and two equipped for people who are hearing or vision impaired.

NKCDC hopes to partly fund the $13 million project through a tax credit partnership.

“Each year, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency offers federal tax credits to limited number of development projects, based on criteria like economic impact, building design, access to transportation, and availability of supportive services,” said NKCDC’s Construction Associate, Brian Horne.

“NKCDC is a nonprofit, but if our application to PHFA is successful, we will partner with an equity investor, who will receive a partial tax write-off for their financial support,” Horne said.

Orinoka Civic House, NKCDC’s last major development project, required the cooperation of more than a dozen banks, corporations, and state and local government agencies. It opened with 51 affordable one and two-bedroom apartments in 2017. NKCDC moved its offices into the ground floor this past spring.

The design of the Ruth Street building will combine elements from Orinoka—like metal siding—with the look of the brick rowhouses across the street. At four stories tall, it will be shorter than Orinoka but higher than the surrounding homes, Horne said.

Pennsylvania Representative MaryLouise Isaacson visited NKCDC in September, toured Orinoka Civic House and discussed plans for the Ruth Street development. “NKCDC is doing such incredible work in the community that I am proud to support,” she said.

“The Ruth Street development is critical to the Kensington community,” said NKCDC’s Executive Director, Felix Torres-Colon. “Philadelphia is gentrifying faster than many cities in the country. Northern Liberties, Fishtown,and now Kensington is under development pressure. While investment in our neighborhoods is positive, preserving and creating affordable housing opportunities for existing residents is essential.

“We are excited to work with the City of Philadelphia and the community to build beautiful, new, energy efficient, state of the art, affordable housing for Kensington,” he said.