City, state and housing officials celebrate new senior housing units
November 4-10, 2009
With much fanfare the Chester Housing Authority (CHA) recently “broke ground” for two new housing developments for senior citizens that are actually nearing completion but the unusual timing did not stop officials from the mayor of Chester to the governor of Pennsylvania beaming with pride about ongoing development of the city “on the move.”
The builders, Roizman Development Inc., and the CHA hosted the ceremony saluting the new Edgemont Senior Apartments and the Madison Senior Apartments to be located on the site of the former Chester Towers high-rises between 10th and 11th streets along the Avenue of the Arts. This new development represents the fulfillment of a $20 million HOPE VI grant issued in 2004 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the Chester Housing Authority.
Chester resident Richard Givvs was among the first accepted into a new housing unit earlier this year. Givvs said he was sad when the Towers came down but now is excited at the opportunity the new apartments will bring to the city.
The senior facilities will provide 24/7 manned security, a 1.625 square foot multi-purpose community room, an on-site management office, garden space, on-site parking and laundry rooms on each floor. The modern housing units will include garbage disposals, electric ranges, frost-free refrigerators, wall-to-wall carpeting in bedrooms, ceramic tile flooring and tub surrounds in the bathrooms, central heat and air conditioning and blinds on all windows. There will also be two properties leaded by the housing authority for commercial use.
Gov. Ed Rendell stressed, that per capita, Chester has received more public money than any other city in the state for development. He credited that to the efforts of state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland. “I would also like to compliment President Obama because without his stimulus bill none of this would have been possible,” said Rendell, who added that the commitment to Chester would have not been made unless there was collective belief that the people of Chester wanted the development and were going to remain in the city to benefit from it.
Mayor Wendell N. Butler Jr., said Chester deserves all the money it can get. “Chester is on the move; keep the checks coming,” he said.
Since 1994 when the CHA was placed under federal court receivership by U.S. District Court Judge Norma L. Shapiro, it has worked to rebuild all of its sites in an effort that has not gone unnoticed, pointed out CHA Executive Director Steve Fischer, who added that the CHA is the only housing authority in the state to receive a Neighborhood Networks Grant from HUD designed at increasing resident-access to computer technology.
“When I started working with the (Authority) in 1994, the CHA was a negative factor in this very distressed city,” said Robert C. Rosenberg, president of Rosenberg Housing Group and the CHA’s court-appointed judicial administrator for development. “Much of its housing was unfit for human habitation and crime and drugs were rampant on its sites. Now, I can proudly say that CHA is no longer part of the problem, it is part of the solution- providing some of the best and safest housing in the city,” Rosenberg beamed.
Israel Roizman, president of Roizman Development Inc., said “People deserve a safe placed to live and (a good) quality of life. It’s only right that in Chester, the oldest city in the state of Pennsylvania, we would build affordable housing that meets the needs of seniors, the most vulnerable population in our country.”
The Edgemont Senior Apartments will be a four-story, elevator-served building with 87 total dwelling units on approximately 1.9 acres. The Madison Senior Apartments will also be a four-story elevator-served building with 38 total dwelling units.
The new construction is expected to enhance the Avenue of the State/Edgemont Avenue corridor near Interstate 95 and Widener University, which is a main gateway into the City of Chester. Looking across the street from the new development at the vacant and long-abandoned DeShong Art Gallery, Fischer concluded the ceremony by asking, “What is next for the Edgemont Avenue corridor?”