Thanks to a partnership between the Philadelphia Housing Authority and HELP USA, a new conversion project at the historic Spring Garden School will keep the city’s momentum going in the right direction.
At a Sept. 23 groundbreaking ceremony, city officials and representatives from HELP USA unveiled their plans for the vacant building at 12th and Ogden Streets, which has sat unoccupied for more than 40 years.
“It would have been far too expensive and a shame to tear it down,” David Cleghorn, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Development at HELP USA, told PhillyVoice. “We haven’t gotten any pushback or a single negative comment on this project. The building has been an eyesore for a while and a safety issue that needed to be addressed. People are excited about it.”
Constructed in 1927 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, Spring Garden School will be HELP USA’s fifth project in Philadelphia, where the nonprofit has invested about $56 million for low-income and special needs housing.
A 99-year ground lease between PHA and HELP USA will underlie a $14.5 million capital project including 37 units of affordable housing for low-income seniors, primarily veterans. A full 12 of the units will be reserved for homeless veterans. HELP USA, which has secured $13.7 million in public and private funding for the project, will be aided by a $9.5 million investment from PHA over the next 20 years.
Two other HELP USA projects in southwest Philadelphia, the Hardy Williams Veterans Center and the Robert A. Brady townhome community, are also catered toward providing permanent housing and assistance to veterans.