Philadelphia redevelopers took “scattered site” path to neighborhood revitalization

Since 1989, Neighborhood Restorations/West Philadelphia Real Estate (WPRE) has been turning decaying houses into viable rentals.

Mostly one house at a time, one block at a time, with the 27-year total closing in on 1,100 projects at 900 different locations in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – an investment of $160 million, said James Levin, a partner in the development company with Scott Mazo and George Bantel.

Theirs is what is known as a “scattered-site” approach to revitalizing a neighborhood – increasing the value of the surrounding homes by turning a blighted property into a useful one.

This approach has increased the total current market value of all properties in the area by $500 million, a study shows.

Each blighted house – sometimes more than one, if Levin and his partners find the situation warrants – is acquired, usually through sheriff sale.

It is then gutted and rebuilt using sustainable practices, so that a low-income family who rents it lives in an affordable, healthy, and energy-efficient home in a solid neighborhood.

From WPRE website: WPRE is the product of a forward thinking team dedicated to providing quality affordable housing while leveraging ecologically sustainable resources throughout development. By designing and constructing all of its developments to achieve LEED Certification from the United States Green Building Council, WPRE ensures each project will minimize its impact on the environment by reducing energy use and efficiently incorporating renewable materials.

The result of these efforts is an integrated development that not only reduces the tenants utility costs (increasing the unit’s affordability) but also contributes to the health and vitality of the tenants residing within. In addition to its environmental objectives, WPRE provides its tenants a high quality of living at an affordable price.

Offering its tenants newly constructed or rehabilitated units in a home ownership setting along with personalized social services and numerous other amenities, WPRE’s developments stimulate and sustain their tenants awareness of positive and responsible behavior while allowing them to manage their money effectively, save their money wisely and eventually acquire economic independence, personal wealth and a home of their own.

Photo credits: WPRE

See full Philadelphia Enquirer article by Alan J. Heavens.

See West Philadelphia Real Estate website.

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