Affordable Housing Complex for Artists Breaks Ground in West Philly

The People's Emergency Center is bringing 20 new apartment units to 4050 Haverford Avenue.

4050 Haverford Avenue } Rendering: PEC

4050 Haverford Avenue | Rendering: PEC

West Philly is about to get another apartment complex, but this time it’s not geared toward student foodies or young professionals with money to burn.

The People’s Emergency Center (PEC) broke ground on a new building today that will bring 20 units of affordable housing for artists and people in need. The site at 4050 Haverford Avenue is currently a vacant lot.

The project will cost $7.2 million, and PEC said they will begin work at the site on Wednesday in the hopes to having it completed by December of this year.

4050 rendering 2

Roxborough’s PZS Architects will lead the design of the three-story building, which will feature 10 one-bedroom, 5 two-bedroom, and 5 three-bedroom units, and Allied Construction will build it. PEC said in a statement that each unit will include “amenities that are conducive for art-making: flexible open layouts, natural light, and high ceilings.” Artist will also have a “community room” facing Haverford Avenue that offers a prominent space for exhibitions and workshops near the bustling corridor of Lancaster Avenue.

4050 Haverford

4050 Haverford

“This project adds affordable housing stock that encourages long-term community residents to enjoy the benefits unique to the Lower Lancaster Avenue neighborhoods of Belmont, Mantua, Mill Creek, Saunders Park and West Powelton,” said Kira Strong, PEC’s Vice President of Community and Economic Development, in a release.

PEC has opened five new affordable housing units since 2011, and these new apartment will be available to residents with a target income of 20%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income.

The development of affordable units is a welcome sight for this section of West Philly. As the growth of University City continues to spread to the nearby neighborhoods, concerns over gentrification continue to be a hotly debated topic, due to the rapid pace of real estate development.  The site is located a few blocks away from the planned “Platinum Corridor” near 41st and Market, and directly across the street from a 12-unit clutch of apartment homes that hit the market in November for $1.275 million.

The area is home to a flourishing arts scene, and the ground breaking comes a little over a year after the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, from whom PEC purchased the land at 4050 Haverford Avenue, abandoned its plans to take artist James Dupree’s Mantua studio at 36th and Haverford by eminent domain in order to build a grocery store.