Sharswood Apartment Complex to Be Demolished This Saturday

The PHA will implode the much-maligned Norman Blumberg Apartments.

The Norman Blumberg Apartments, which will be demolished on Saturday.

The Norman Blumberg Apartments, which will be demolished on Saturday.

It’s been said that the development of the Norman Blumberg Apartments in 1969 was the beginning of the decline of the Sharswood neighborhood in North Philadelphia, with the Blumberg tenants bringing crime to the neighborhood and scaring away the middle class. As of this Saturday, those apartments will be gone.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority, which installed the apartments, is set to demolish two of the three towers in the complex this Saturday morning. They will also demolish 15 smaller buildings on the site. A ceremony featuring a who’s who of Philly politicos — including Mayor Jim Kenney, Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Congressman Chaka Fattah, state Rep. Donna Bullock and more — is set to begin at 6:30 a.m. with the implosion to take place at 7:15.

PHA plans to convert the area into 1,500 new homes. Five hundred families had to be relocated for this project but they will have the opportunity to move back once the new construction is built. Those who live within the debris zone will have to clear out by 6:30 a.m. on Saturday.

What began as a cooperative planning process funded by a Federal grant turned contentious when, in early 2015, the PHA moved quicker than expected to acquire land for the project through eminent domain. Some also believe that the new complex’s emphasis on affordable housing will keep poverty in the area and ultimately have a net-zero effect on the community.