Redevelopment plan gains approval

By a show of hands, about 400 of the 400 or so folks who attended last Thursday’s Upper Holmesburg Civic Association meeting were there to hear about a suspected swingers club in the neighborhood.

But they also learned some important news of the appealing variety when UHCA President Stan Cywinski and City Councilman Bobby Henon announced that the Philadelphia Housing Authority had approved unanimously a redevelopment plan for the former Liddonfield Homes site. The approval occurred at PHA’s board meeting last Thursday afternoon.

PHA agreed to convey the former public housing project site to NewCourtland Inc., which plans to build housing for low-income seniors, a senior “lifestyle” center and two athletic fields for Holy Family University. The 32-acre tract is at Torresdale Avenue and Megargee Street.

NewCourtland already operates one senior center at 6595-C Roosevelt Blvd. and is planning to build another center, along with senior housing, on the site of the former St. Bartholomew School in Wissinoming. The Liddonfield proposal includes a community meeting room. The center will be open to seniors from throughout the Northeast, while local folks will have first option on the new housing units.

Holy Family’s athletic teams will use the sports fields. One will be a softball field and the other a multi-purpose pitch for sports like soccer and lacrosse. The university will supply $10 million in scholarships to local students attending the university.

NewCourtland plans to spend more than $40 million to develop the site, Cywinski said.

Henon thanked his predecessor in City Council’s 6th district, the late Joan Krajewski, as well as former state Rep. Mike McGeehan for their early contributions to the effort to redevelop Liddonfield. Henon also thanked McGeehan’s successor, state Rep. Mike Driscoll, “and the leadership of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association.”

Upper Holmesburg received some bad news last Thursday, too. Sears Holdings Inc. announced that it will close the Kmart store at 8800 Frankford Ave. in late July. A liquidation sale is expected to begin on May 12. Sears Holdings will close 68 Kmarts and 10 Sears stores across the nation this summer. The company chose those stores based on their profitability and terms of their property leases.

The Kmart closing will follow the recent closings of Pathmark at 8700 Frankford Ave. and Food Basics at 8920 Frankford Ave. A&P was the parent company of both grocery stores, both of which remain vacant.

In other business, Cywinski announced that Philadelphia Water Ice in the Holmesburg Shopping Center donated $100 to the civic association. ••