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First phase of Kinder Park Housing Project nearly done

Delaware County Daily Times November 8, 2015

The first group of residents to move into the redeveloped Kinder Park Housing Project will be settled in by the first week of December, according to Lawrence Hartley, executive director of the Delaware County Housing Authority.

“We are probably 30 days behind on our schedule because of weather and some utility work, but it’s nothing too serious,” Hartley said.

The redeveopment of the 30-acre site, with about 9 percent located in adjacent Nether Providence, is being done in four phases, with each phase taking about one year. The occupancy by 48 families in December marks the end of phase one. Demolition work for phase two is now underway, to be followed by phase three.

Hartley said the final phase is the construction of a fourth mid-rise apartment building for senior citizens with 75 units. He added that there is no definite date for the apartment construction. The three mid-rise apartment buildings on the site that were built in the 1980s will remain.

During the early days of World War II, when thousands of people flocked to the Chester area to work in defense plants along the Delaware River, a housing project was hastily constructed on land bounded by MacDade Boulevard and Bullens Lane to provide lodging for defense industry workers. When the war ended the housing project became part of the Delaware County Housing Authority and was known as Overlook Heights. Low- to moderate-income families became tenants and some 40 years later the housing authority demolished the old buildings and built more modern housing on the site, now known as Kinder Park. And even though those buildings constructed in the mid-1980s were relatively young when plans were made to demolish them, they were plagued by moisture problems, which Hartley attributed to the type of construction material used back then. So it was decided two years ago to demolish the entire project and build anew.

Plans also call for a community building and a maintenance building. With zoning variances granted by the zoning boards of both townships where the project is located, permits in hand and relocation of residents in phase 1 of the building project underway, demolition began in the summer of 2014. Cost estimates for completion of the entire project is in excess of $60 million, with funding coming from a combination of state, federal and local funds.

The old triplex family units are being replaced by townhouse style homes. Hartley noted the new development will see a shift in the size of the family units, going from two to five bedrooms to two to three bedrooms.

“We are looking toward creating a more traditional neighborhood, a more walkable neighborhood,” said Elizabeth Naughton Beck, an attorney representing the housing authority and Pennrose Properties, which is partnering with the housing authority on the project, when she spoke at a zoning hearing seeking variances needed for the redevelopment.

Evidence of the work of Pennrose Properties can be seen in the Crum Lynne section of Ridley where the company redeveloped a portion of the former Penn Hills apartment complex into the Penn Ridge community three years ago with similar townhouse style dwellings being built at Kinder Park.

“There will be a total of 316 units with approximately 1200 residents when the project is complete,” said Hartley.

The phase 2 construction will see 26 housing units in Ridley and 24 in Nether Providence. During the construction project residents were either relocated to other units in housing authority-operated complexes or given Section 8 vouchers for other housing.

“When the new units are finished we will notify tenants who had to move that they are entitled to come back,” Hartley said. “They have had to have been tenants in good standing. Tenants pay 30 percent of their income for rent.”

Hartley said the housing authority has found that only 50 percent of the people who move out during a construction period move back.

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