Free Land in Francsiville for Builders Who Will Sell for Less
Philadelphia’s Land Bank is continuing its slow march to functionality.
On Wednesday, the Land Bank released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for eight vacant properties near 19th and Brown streets in Francisville. It’s the first of several RFPs for “workforce housing” the Land Bank plans to send out this year, according to a press release.
The land would be given away for free or at a nominal cost to developers who will build houses and sell them for no more than $230,000 apiece. Buyers could make no more than 120 percent of Area Median Income, which is around $96,000 for a family of four. The average home sale price in Francisville is $325,000, according to the press release.
This is the first time that the Land Bank, which was created at the end of 2013 to help the city manage the redevelopment of vacant land, is actually looking to dispose of properties in its control. After surviving a political battle in City Council, the Land Bank was slow to get up and running. It took a year to create a strategic plan, which lays out various goals for the reuse of vacant land, like affordable housing, community gardens, and commercial development. It didn’t begin actually acquiring land from other city agencies until the end of last year, after protracted negotiations with the various unions whose members staff the agency.
Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council President Darrell Clarke both praised the Land Bank for releasing the RFP, saying it would help maintain income diversity in the neighborhood. Clarke, whose district includes Francisville, has been pushing for the development of more “workforce housing” for a few years. Workforce housing is supposed to serve middle-income residents rather than the poorest, and the city offsets the development cost with free or discounted land, rather than rent subsidies or other financial contributions.
“Diversity and inclusion are among Philadelphia’s greatest attributes, which is why City Council’s Workforce Housing Initiative is designed to ensure that people of modest incomes are able to live and raise their families in rapidly appreciating neighborhoods,” Clarke said in the press release. “I applaud the Land Bank for taking this important step toward ensuring all of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods can become communities of choice.”
See the RFP here.
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