Catholic Housing and Community Services, a branch of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Secretariat of Catholic Human Services, announced July 12 that it received a tax credit allocation of approximately $12 million from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) for the planned development of St. Rita Place, an affordable housing facility for independent seniors.
St. Rita Place will be a multi-story apartment building adjacent to St. Rita Church and the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia on the 1100 block of South Broad Street in Philadelphia. The 46 one-bedroom apartments, each completely handicap-accessible, will house income-eligible seniors age 62 and over on the upper floors of the five-story building.
It will also house the Cascia Center, a ministry of the Augustinian Friars of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova on the ground floor. This will consist of offices, conference rooms, a kitchen and facilities that can also serve the needs of those who come in group pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Rita of Cascia.
The new St. Rita Place will be built on what is now a vacant lot but formerly occupied by buildings on the St. Rita Parish campus. More recently it housed the St. Rita Senior Community Center, which was replaced by the St. Charles Senior Community Center, also in South Philadelphia.
“The tremendously wonderful thing about this is how it is an example of how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Augustinian Friars of the Province of Villanova are making this land available for the people of the entire South Philadelphia community,” said John Wagner, deputy secretary for Catholic Human Services who oversees Catholic Housing and Community Services.
“This provides the friars an opportunity to reach out and provide services for the entire community,” he said. And as for the senior housing, “there will be a demand for it. People will love to live on Broad Street. This is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods, not only in the city, but in the whole country.”
The archdiocese already has expertise in developing low-income senior housing in Philadelphia. It has developed St. Francis Villa in Kensington, Nativity B.V.M. Place in Port Richmond and St. John Neumann Place and St. John Neumann Place II in South Philadelphia.
The proposed St. Rita Place has been in the planning stages for some time. A bid last year for the necessary tax credit through which PHFA funds such initiatives was applied for but not successful, according to Wagner.
“This year we submitted a quite compelling application and were awarded the tax credits,” he said.
Although St. Rita Place as designed by Cecil Baker + Partners Architects is quite different in architectural style than the adjacent St. Rita Church, the two — which will be approximately the same height — will complement each other.
Now that the tax credit has been approved, Wagner estimates it will take six to nine months to close the financial agreements and then construction of the estimated $16.9 million project can start, which should take approximately one year for completion.
A few months before completion they will begin marketing the apartments to eligible seniors. “We expect it will fill up within 30 days,” Wagner said.
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