Hard Hat Tour: The Pointe

The first four homes in Delta Alliance's mixed-income development just outside Sharswood are ready to welcome their workforce owners. We got to see the crew apply the finishing touches.

The first four homes being built as part of the Pointe development will be sold to working families for $238,000. The two end units have already been spoken for. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Maybe other developers would prefer to work with one single parcel of land and build a passel of houses on it, but Delta Alliance CEO Walter Logan is perfectly happy to take several scattered lots around the intersection of 19th Street and Ridge Avenue in order to build 67 new housing units. The new homes — 14 market-rate townhouses, another 14 townhouses built in connection with the city’s workforce housing initiative, and a 39-unit condominium building — will be completed over the course of the next year.

The first four units, all of them workforce housing, are complete or nearly so now. They occupy the last four lots on the north side of the 1800 block of Thompson Street, just east of Sharswood and north of Francisville.

When Logan and his vice president for development, Salaam Muhsin, took me on a tour of the first two units to be completed as part of this first phase of The Pointe, he pointed with pride to the fact that these units are built and outfitted to the same standard as the market-rate ones.

These two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,300-square-foot units have an asking price of $238,000. As you will see in the photos below, they have the usual bells and whistles found in new mid-market construction these days: kitchens with granite countertops, vinyl-coated wood-plank floors throughout, tile shower enclosures in the bathrooms, roof decks. And the E-Built construction crew put these units together very well: the fit and finish are first-rate and the materials have a solid feel to them.

“What we tried to do was pay homage to the existing character of the neighborhood,” said Logan. And, he added, building this as a mixed-income project “benefits the neighborhood, benefits the city and benefits the developer.” Muhsin echoed this sentiment: “If [all of these homes are] being offered to the highest bidder, guess who’s not going to be there?”

These homes were built on vacant lots acquired from the City of Philadelphia for a nominal fee as a City Council-sponsored workforce housing initiative was taking shape. The program that emerged, which was formally announced after this transaction had taken place, has guidelines and income restrictions similar to those that apply to these houses: buyers must have household incomes between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income, and the sale prices max out at $230,000.

Logan noted that condominiums are being offered for the same price in nearby Francisville. But, he noted, “along with that come the homeowners association fees.” Those can add substantially to the monthly payment for the house.

The buyer of the first home we toured was scheduled to move in the following week; the second home’s owner was slated to move in a week later — this week.

As we left the site, Logan pointed to a newly rehabbed older house two doors down with a For Sale sign hanging from it. The asking price? $375,000, he said. The market-rate units at The Pointe will list for a a good bit less than that: $295,000. Even so, the working families who buy these homes are getting a really good deal, as the pictures below should make clear. “They walk in with $60,000 in equity,” Muhsin said. But there is a catch: the owners can’t cash in on that built-in equity until ten years have passed.

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