NewCourtland purchases former Liddonfield Homes site

NewCourtland Senior Services will pay $5.5 million for the 32-acre Liddonfield Homes site, which has been idle for seven years. More than 400 public housing units once occupied the site but were demolished and cleared in 2011. TIMES FILE PHOTO

NewCourtland Senior Services announced on Monday its purchase of the 32-acre Liddonfield Homes site from the Philadelphia Housing Authority for its redevelopment as a senior center, senior housing complex and athletic facility for Holy Family University.

In a joint news release, NewCourtland and PHA described the sale as “a historic transaction that will create an intergenerational community of seniors and college students.”

NewCourtland will pay $5.5 million for the land, which has been idle for seven years since the closing of Liddonfield. More than 400 public housing units once occupied the site at Torresdale Avenue and Megargee Street but were demolished and cleared in 2011.

“This major purchase and our plans for Northeast Philadelphia represent NewCourtland’s vision for not only a unique, transformative, community, but our commitment to further expansion beyond today’s announcement,” NewCourtland President Gail Kass said. “We are addressing two critical needs at this site — safe, affordable housing for the city’s rapidly growing senior population and increased healthcare services through our LIFE program.”

PHA has committed to provide operational funding through its Housing Choice Voucher Program for 20 years for up to 300 apartments. That funding would equal more than $3 million per year and more than $60 million for the length of the commitment.

“NewCourtland’s plan for the housing and services on this site are very much in keeping with PHA’s mission of creating neighborhoods of choice and helping seniors remain in their homes with easy access to the care they need,” PHA President Kelvin A. Jeremiah said. “Theirs was the best proposal for putting the sprawling site back into use and we are pleased to fund the apartments for years to come. I commend NewCourtland for also including sports fields for students at Holy Family University as part of this community.”

The housing and the 15,000-square-foot LIFE Center will occupy one-third of the property. On another third, NewCourtland plans to build fields for softball, lacrosse, soccer and track. Holy Family will enter a separate agreement with NewCourtland for the university’s use of the new sports complex. The remaining third of the site will be reserved for use at a later time, with input from the Upper Holmesburg community.

City Councilman Bobby Henon, whose 6th district includes the site, strongly supported the transaction.

“The end use is exactly what the community has wanted and championed for years. To both NewCourtland and PHA’s credit, they got it exactly right with this agreement,” Henon said.

The Upper Holmesburg Civic Association plans to discuss the plans further during its monthly meeting on May 18 at 7 p.m. at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall, 8532 Frankford Ave. The meeting is open to the public. ••

— William Kenny