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New affordable housing to replace old Norris homes near Temple

The project received the green light from the Civic Design Review committee

The third phase of PHA’s affordable housing project near Temple is underway.
Renderings by KSK Architects Planners Historians

Commending the project for its forward-thinking design, the Civic Design Review committee voted to green light phase three of the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s North Central affordable housing project at 2000-2058 N. 11th Street.

The 87,789-square-foot development calls to replace a series of 1950s Norris Homes with 50 rental units, a mix of two-, three-, four-, and five-bedroom townhouses and one-bedroom apartments. These units were designed by KSK Architects, Planners, Historians to both blend in with the North Philly fabric of low-rises, as well as resemble market-rate townhouses being built throughout Philadelphia, said architect John R. Gibbons of KSK Architects.

“It’s not meant to look like public housing,” Gibbons said.

The design committee praised the project for using high-end materials, including brick, stone, and metal on the street-facing facades. They also appreciated that the project will strive for LEED Silver certification.

But this attention to detail on the front exterior of the homes meant that most of the committee’s critiques were directed to the backs of the properties, which will be covered in vinyl. This area will feature small patches of communal spaces, 24 parking spaces, and individual storage sheds for each townhouse.

There will also be a community building and 20 bicycle parking spaces on site.

Gibbons said that the design team would love to use another type of material other than vinyl, but options are limited due to budgetary constraints.

Committee member and landscape architect Tavis Dockwiller said, “When I see a space like this, I see opportunity.” She suggested creating a play space for kids, as well as more trees and design for the south-facing open space.

The Civic Design Review committee is an advisory board, so all of their notes are considered recommendations. The board unanimously voted to conclude the design process. With the green light, the by-right project is expected to begin construction in January 2018 with an April 2019 completion date, according to PHA’s timeline.