Five years in development, the project is the collaborative vision of two local non-profits which work with the homeless: Project H.O.M.E. and the Bethesda Project. In addition to the efforts of these two organizations, dozens of public and private donors (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Franciso… as well as Jon Bon Jovi and the Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation.) In addition to financial support from the private and public sectors, local neighbors (including Macy’s, SEPTA and the Loews Hotel) saw the construction of the project an asset to the neighborhood.
Developers plan to demolish an unused parish building belonging to St. John the Evangelist Church (on 13th Street) as well as a vacant building which currently sits behind the SEPTA headquarters (on Market Street.) The new 63,000-square-foot, eight-story highrise is slated to open in 2010 and consist of 79 single-resident units, as well as a multi-purpose room, computer lab, exercise facility, offices for Project H.O.M.E. and Bethesda Project, kitchens and additional social service amenties.
In order to earn LEED-Certification, the construction will be environmentally friendly by way of insulated walls, high, energy-efficient appliances, a rainwater-collection systems, and a vegetation-covered “green roof.” Additionally, upwards of fifteen percent of the materials being utilized to construct the new housing will be recycled elements.
More than two hundred people attended the ceremony, including Cardinal Justin Rigali, Project H.O.M.E. Executive Director Sister Mary Scullion, Project H.O.M.E. co-founder Joan Dawson McConnon, and the Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation’s Jon Bon Jovi.
For more photos from the groundbreaking event, please visit our Photo Gallery.
To read KYW 1060 News Radio’s story about this project, click HERE.
To read The Metro’s story about this groundbreaking, click HERE.
To view the architectural rendering of the planned housing, please click to download the PDF file HERE.
[Cardinal Justin Rigali and Jon Bon Jovi (AP Photo / Michael Perez)]
Following is the Official Press Release issued:
PROJECT H.O.M.E. AND BETHESDA PROJECT ANNOUNCE NEW JOINT VENTURE TO HELP HOUSE HOMELESS COMMUNITY
New Facility Will be a LEED-Certified Home for 79 Men and Women
PHILADELPHIA, July 8, 2009 — Today homeless advocate Jon Bon Jovi, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Brian Hudson from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, joined two of Philadelphia’s leading homeless organizations, Project H.O.M.E. and the Bethesda Project, to announce a unique joint venture to develop a LEED-certified, affordable housing facility in Center City, which will be named in memory and honor of the legacy of John and Josephine Connelly. The two nonprofit organizations are dedicated to serving the needs of the homeless and formerly homeless Philadelphians, and are working in partnership for the first time to build a facility that will house 79 men and women.
“We are extremely proud not only of the opportunity this project provides for the homeless community, but also of the unique collaboration among organizations and neighbors that went into making this possible,” said Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project H.O.M.E. “This incredible partnership with Bethesda Project, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, St. John the Evangelist Church, and the project’s neighbors, has allowed us to combine resources and create something that will have a tremendous impact on our community.”
“When Fr. Frank Yacobi, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church first asked Bethesda Project if we’d be interested in using the unused parish buildings to help people who are homeless, we immediately said yes,” said Angelo Sgro, Executive Director of Bethesda Project. “When we decided to build a new building on this site, we asked Project H.O.M.E. to partner with us because of their expertise in developing this kind of housing.”
The .18-acre square-shaped site is located in the center of Philadelphia’s business district at 13th and Market Streets. The eight-story building will be 63,620 square-feet and will consist of 79 single resident units. The building will also feature a multi-purpose room, a laundry room, an exercise room, multiple kitchens, offices, storage and a lobby/reception area. The building, located behind St. John the Evangelist church, is surrounded by commercial and institutional buildings, including the SEPTA building, Loews hotel, Macy’s, and the PSFS building, among many others.
“This building is important because we are creating desperately needed permanent, supported housing for people with special needs in an area of the City with an abundance of social services, transportation, and social opportunities available to them,” said Angelo Sgro. “The unprecedented acceptance and enthusiasm we received from neighbors in the area further demonstrates that the Philadelphia community is committed to ending homelessness.”
Another important aspect of the building is that is will be LEED-certified. Environmentally-friendly components of the building will include a green roof, highly insulated walls to improve thermal performance, a rainwater collection system for irrigation and non-potable use, high-efficiency mechanical systems and lighting, 15% of the materials for the facility will be constructed using recycled content and 75% of all demolition materials will be recycled. The project team plans to register the facility for LEED Silver Certification, seeking points in all six categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Material and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design Process.
In addition to serving as a living space, the new building will also house parish offices and a community room for Project H.O.M.E. and Bethesda Project programs. The two parts of the building will have separate entrances and are designed to operate independently. The residential component will have direct street access and embody many features and amenities often found in Center city apartment buildings.
“Funding and development of this project has been underway for almost five years, and with construction expected to be completed in 2010, we are thrilled to see this longtime vision become a reality,” said Sister Mary Scullion.
ABOUT PROJECT H.O.M.E.
Since 1989, Project H.O.M.E. has helped more than 8,000 people break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of care that includes street outreach, supportive housing and comprehensive services that focus on health care, education and employment. The organization also works to prevent homelessness and poverty through comprehensive neighborhood revitalization in North Philadelphia. These efforts include the renovation of vacant or deteriorated houses that are then sold to first-time homebuyers; economic reinvestment along the Ridge Avenue Corridor; adult and youth education and enrichment programs at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs; and community-based health care services. To learn more, please visit WWW.PROJECTHOME.ORG
ABOUT BETHESDA PROJECT
The mission of Bethesda Project is to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be family with those who have none. Since its founding in 1979, Bethesda Project staff and volunteers have helped single men and women who are homeless in Philadelphia by providing emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, and supportive services designed to help people leave homelessness behind and live a life of human dignity. The organization provides services at 14 sites in and around Center City. For more information on how to support Bethesda Project as a volunteer or a donor, please visit WWW.BETHESDAPROJECT.ORG