The Nicetown CDC began its revitalization efforts with a focus on Nicetown’s commercial corridor that runs along Germantown Avenue. A succession of four plans target Nicetown’s corridor from the 4100 block at Germantown and Hunting Park, to the 4500 block of Germantown Avenue at the Wayne Junction train station. The plans are a road map of strategies for cleaning, greening and maintenance, mixed use development, and attracting new small businesses.
Since inception of the organization, the dire need for affordable housing was identified and prioritized by the Nicetown CDC. Strategic planning, securing adequate funding sources and acquiring property for site control are among the challenges faced in order to establish affordable housing. Beginning with a partnership with Youthbuild, the organization began producing affordable housing for homeownership. Youthbuild teaches the construction trades to high school students under the guidance of experienced teachers and counselors. This was the start of our focus on preservation of existing housing stock.
The Wingohocking Street Project illustrates best how the Nicetown CDC partners with Youthbuild to redevelop vacant and blighted properties for homeownership. Properties that were an eyesore and had been deteriorating for almost two decades were redeveloped for first time homeowners. The project was certified LEED Platinum with the highest level of energy efficiency. The Nicetown CDC has grown over the years and increased their capacity to complete small and larger scale scattered site redevelopments for homeownership. (Wingohocking Project photos) The organization has redeveloped vacant, blighted properties from gut rehabs as well as ground up new construction. The Nicetown CDC has secured and invested more than $40 million for affordable housing in Nicetown and currently has an affordable homeownership project in the pipeline in West Philadelphia.
The Nicetown CDC conducts Homeowner Clubs to help prequalify interested first time homeowners as well as prepare renters to obtain affordable housing. A series of six workshops that include how to get housing counseling, a mortgage, credit repair/FICO score, settlement assistance grants, home inspection, etc. Other Information from the Division of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) about how to obtain grants, housing counseling and other assistance for affordable housing is shared from the Nicetown CDC/NAC program.
The NTCDC’s first major housing developments- the award-winning Nicetown Court I & II are low-income housing tax credit projects, (LIHTC) that attracted nearly $40 million in investment. Nicetown Court I (37 units) was completed in December 2012, and immediately leveraged the development of Nicetown Court II (50 units) directly across the street from the historic Wayne Junction train station. The transformation of this multi-modal, transit-centered gateway is iconic and includes offices of the 8th City Council District, State Senate District and office headquarters of the Philadelphia NAACP. Temple Physicians at Nicetown and Sister Muhammad’s Restaurant are also anchor tenants in the mixed-use developments. SEPTA’s $45 million redevelopment of the Wayne Junction train station has established safer, more accessible travel locally, throughout the City, and all along the eastern region. These major developments are the catalyst to neighborhood revitalization in Nicetown and adjacent neighborhoods in Germantown and Northwest Philadelphia.
The Nicetown Sport Court is resident driven, AIA Award winning plan for a community destination, to develop underutilized space under the Roosevelt Boulevard Expressway that crosses Nicetown’s commercial corridor. It is an innovative and sustainable vision for visitors who live, work and play in Nicetown, across the City of Philadelphia and regionally. The project is designed to bring sports, recreation, arts and culture and economic development, while addressing critical needs such as eliminating short dumping, establish safety and security and storm water mitigation. In 2021, the Sport Court was selected by Congressman Dwight Evans, to receive $1 million in Federal Community Project funding towards the development of the Nicetown Sport Court. The goal of the project is to reconnect the Nicetown neighborhood that was divided by the Roosevelt Boulevard.
Barrett Playground & Shepard Recreation Center (photos)
In 2019, the Nicetown CDC was selected by Rebuild to be a Project User for the Barrett Playground Rebuild Project. ($13 million) More than a year of community engagement along with pre-development activities, resulted in the conceptual design that will take the current playground from a one-room dilapidated building and underused fields to what will now be the Barrett Recreation Center. It will be the hub of revitalization with recreation, resources and programming in Logan. The project is scheduled to go to groundbreaking and construction in the fall of 2022.
Shepard Recreation Center (photos)
Located in the 4th Council District and also known as Haddington Recreation Center, this Rebuild Project has a history of famous sports figures and athletes, including basketball icon Wilt Chamberlain, the famous Allen family with boxing and the West Philly Panthers with football. Community engagement and pre-development activities influenced a conceptual plan that will make the Shepard Recreation Center a signature facility for sports, recreation, programming and technology. This is a $13 million Rebuild Project.