On July 20, Kensington nonprofit Impact Services celebrated the completion of 48 new affordable housing units in a former carpet mill at the corner of A Street and Indiana Avenue. The mixed-use building will also eventually include 70,000 square feet of commercial space.
The ribbon-cutting event kicked off at 2:00 p.m. as community members and partners mingled and got a firsthand look at the units. Speakers began at 3:00 p.m.
District 7 Councilmember Quetcy Lozada congratulated Impact Services on the project as one that celebrated the culture and history of the neighborhood while meeting a critical need in the neighborhood.
“It is no secret that affordable and low-income housing opportunities are vital in the 7th Council District where many families are cost-burdened paying more than 30 to 40% of income on housing expenses,” Lozada said. “There are currently not enough units for families that need one.”
The housing units range from $650 for a one-bedroom apartment to $900 for a three-bedroom apartment.
The rooms are spacious, with high ceilings and natural lighting beaming through the many windows. The Hoyle, Hodges, and Kaye Textile Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; so while necessary updates were done to modernize the interior, the exterior of the building preserves the original factory look.
There is already a waitlist for the apartments. Leasing will begin in a couple of weeks.
The City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC) financed $2 million toward the project, according to Jesse Lawrence, director of real estate at PHDC. Several other funders also contributed to the project’s development.
The second phase of the project, which will include identifying commercial tenants, is expected to begin in 2024. Impact will use 10,000 square feet of the available office space. The other 60,000 square feet will be saved for other tenants.
“We have actually denied certain people that have made requests to move in here because neighbors have said ‘we don’t need any more of that kind of service here’,” said Casey O’Donnell, CEO of Impact Services. “We have let neighbors guide how this process is going to work.”
The Kensington Plan is a collaborative effort between Impact Services and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) to improve quality of life in the neighborhood with resident input.
The anchor projects were pre-existing projects reclaiming underutilized and blighted properties in Kensington that were to be repurposed as service sites that would improve health outcomes in the neighborhood. According to the Kensington Plan project website, the anchor projects are intended to serve as a model of what a community-driven process could look like under the plan.
According to O’Donnell, the refinished building, known as “the Mill,” is part of the Hope Park Focus Zone. That zone includes the Mill’s campus, Hope Park, and the surrounding area between Indiana Avenue and the McPherson Square Focus Zone.
“Our goal is to come together, take parks back, and make blocks safer,” O’Donnell said.
For more information about the project, click here.
Editors: Jillian Bauer-Reese / Designer: Siani Colón