LIFE center under construction at old Liddonfield site, but soccer field scrapped

NewCourtland and Holy Family University officials visited last week’s Upper Holmesburg Civic Association meeting to provide an update on construction plans at the former Liddonfield Homes housing project site.

The 32-acre site has been vacant since the project was demolished in 2011.

The good news is that NewCourtland is building a Living Independently For Elders (LIFE) center, which is expected to open by late April 2020. The center will offer programs and resources for community members 55 and older.

The bad news is that there will be no high-end turf soccer field, as originally planned, that would have been used by Holy Family and the community. Stormwater management issues made it too costly for NewCourtland to build and Holy Family to maintain. The original cost was about $3 million, but the issues made the projected cost three times higher.

NewCourtland will also build 200 affordable housing units, a mix of efficiencies and one-bedroom apartments. That part of the project will cost $48 million, and local senior citizens will have priority.

The agency is still expected to build a field for the Holy Family softball team, which does not have a permanent home field.

Holy Family will be building a soccer field on its campus at Frankford and Grant avenues, and plans to offer scholarships to Upper Holmesburg residents starting next fall.

As for what will be built on the NewCourtland ground that had been reserved for the soccer field, agency officials suggested a more low-maintenance soccer field, but said civic association president Stan Cywinski said there are already enough soccer fields in the area.

Cywinski suggested an indoor sports/multipurpose facility that could be home to activities for disabled children or free daycare for low-income families. A final decision has not been made.

Joe Duffy

NewCourtland CEO Joe Duffy said the agency is proud of its work, including the LIFE center and apartments at the St. Bartholomew Parish campus in Wissinoming, and that Upper Holmesburg residents will like what they see when the project in their neighborhood is finished.

“We are committed to excellence,” he said.

In other news from the Nov. 21 meeting:

• The civic association wrote a letter to owners of the gas station at 8789 Frankford Ave., asking them to do something to clean up the site’s overall drab look.

• Residents expressed dismay at the pending closing of the Mealey’s Furniture Outlet at 8812 Frankford Ave.

• Upper Holmesburg Civic Association will meet again on Thursday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall, 8532 Frankford Ave. The meeting will serve as a holiday celebration. ••