Susquehanna Square Receives Blue Ribbon Award

Community Ventures is humbled to receive the PACDC 2021 Blue Ribbon Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by community development corporations that advance PACDC’s vision: “An equitable city where every Philadelphian lives, works, and thrives in a neighborhood that offers an excellent quality of life”

Susquehanna Square is a 37-unit multi-generational, affordable housing development located northwest of Temple University’s campus on N. 15th & 16th. Streets. Community Ventures partnered with Grands As Parents to target grandparent-headed households and other kinship caregivers. The development has achieved Enterprise Green Communities and Energy Star Certifications.

Below is the full article about Susquehanna Square in the PACDC 2021 Magazine.

Building Off of Success

Community Ventures has done impressive affordable housing development work across Philadelphia—their Centennial Village development was a prior PACDC Blue Ribbon Award winner—but when they were looking for their next big project, they decided to build off of a legacy of success in North Central Philadelphia adjacent to Temple University’s campus. Investing in this neighborhood is critical as it has an existing low-income population along with increasing gentrification. In 2007 Community Ventures worked with neighborhood leaders to design Susquehanna Village, and continuing the developer’s history of strategic neighborhood investment became the focus.  Grands  as Parents, Inc., a local neighborhood organization that provides supportive services and advocates for grandparent-headed and kinship-care families and other stakeholders, collaborated with Council President Darrell Clarke’s office, and  Susquehanna Square  was  born.  

“David [La Fontaine] and Troy [Hannigan]  have been phenomenal in working with us. We see this as  an  important first step in encouraging more intergenerational housing. Grandparents play such an important role in keeping families together, but they need more resources like this,” said  Jean Hackney, Vice President of Grands as Parents. 

Susquehanna Square is a 37-unit, mixed-generation affordable  housing development located across the street from an elementary school on North 15th and 16th Streets and the 1600 block of Diamond Street. It’s composed of three new-construction buildings and will serve a variety of populations. All of the units are targeted for below  60%  area median income, while eight are specifically designated for  people  experiencing homelessness. Five of the units  have been leased to  grandparents caring for  grandchildren.  

PHOTO COURTESY OF COMMUNITY VENTURES
Photo Credit: Demetrios Varoumas

“One of the many strengths of Susquehanna Square is its access to a wide range of significant amenities in the surrounding community. These amenities include Temple University and its associated commercial area, schools, public playgrounds, a movie theater, two modern supermarkets, and social service providers,” said Troy Hannigan, Program Director for Community Ventures. This puts the individuals, families, and children that will call Susquehanna Square home in close proximity to places to work, shop, and play and adjacent to the SEPTA Broad Street Line stop, which can connect them to the city’s largest employment and medical centers. 

The total project covers nearly 39,000 square feet and includes 17 one-bedroom units, 14 two-bedroom units, 3 three-bedroom units, and 3 four-bedroom units. The project will also feature Energy Star–rated appliances and a green roof to help lower expenses for residents and assist with stormwater management. In addition, specific attention was given to ensuring that the 21st-century construction fit seamlessly into its context of 19th-century row homes. “We made sure to prioritize the building complementing and not contrasting with the existing community,” says Hannigan.  

The development was able to come about because of close collaboration between a number of stakeholders, including Council President Clarke, the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, and more. This support and the dedication of the team at Community Ventures meant that not even the COVID-19 pandemic could stop them: they worked straight through to get the development completed. 

The entire team at Community Ventures should be proud, and PACDC congratulates them on being recognized as a 2021 Blue Ribbon Award winner. 

The Blue Ribbon Award recognizes excellence in community development.