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Project H.O.M.E. brings TOD, affordable housing to Francisville via new construction

JBJ Soul Homes, formerly known as Fairmount Gardens, unofficially broke ground in early October at the intersection of Fairmount and Ridge Avenues in Francisville.  And two weeks from today an official groundbreaking ceremony with Mayor Nutter and Jon Bon Jovi will commemorate the construction of a new project that is being heralded as one of the most important along the burgeoning North Broad Corridor and promises to act as a catalyst for future investment. 
So why all the excitement over JBJ Soul Homes?  “It’s the ultimate win-win,” says Joan McCann of Project H.O.M.E , the non-profit homeless advocacy group behind the new four-story, 75,000+ square foot facility.  “The project brings together affordable housing, mostly geared towards the homeless, office space for Project H.O.M.E, and retail space for the neighborhood.”   Make that a win-win-win.   
Specifically, the facility will include 47 efficiency apartments and eight one-bedrooms, minimal parking due to the nearby subway stop, and 12,000 square feet of retail space that can accommodate one user or be split into three spaces.    
Laura Weinbaum of Project H.O.M.E says the group had their eye on the tract of land for a long time and wanted to build affordable housing there.  “We wanted affordable housing in close proximity to our offices at 1515 Fairmount Avenue and thought this site was perfect.  The Fairmount health center is nearby, the subway is right there and the neighborhood has a lot of amenities to offer.”
So they approached another prominent non-profit in the neighborhood, People For People, which owned the land. “They didn’t want to sell the land, but agreed to lease it to us so long as the project included retail space that catered to the needs of the community,” explains Weinabum who says as part of the agreement, People For People will manage the retail space.      
Weinbaum says one of the goals of the retail space is to re-establish Fairmount and Ridge Avenues as commercial corridors in Francisville.  To that effect, the commercial storefronts will be located on the first floor of the building along both Ridge and Fairmount Avenues and Ridge Avenue and Fifteenth Street, and is expected to establish a strong visual gateway into the neighborhood.    
The official groundbreaking ceremony is taking place Tuesday, Nov. 13th, from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  After that Weinbaum expects construction should last for roughly one year and be open sometime next fall or early winter.

Source: Joan McCann and Laura Weinbaum, Project H.O.M.E.
WriterGreg Meckstroth
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