Redevelopment authority selects firm to redevelop houses destroyed in MOVE incident (4/19/2017)

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Byline: Natalie Kostelni
Date: 4/19/2017

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority selected AJR Endeavors to redevelop three dozen properties that were involved in the infamous MOVE explosion that took place in 1985 and marred a neighborhood, the city and its mayor.

The effort by the city agency looks to have those properties redeveloped and, though it won’t erase history, it has the potential to set that part of Philadelphia on a new course.

Sixty properties were destroyed in the fiery explosion that killed 11 people along the 6200 block of Osage Avenue and the 6200 block of Pine Street in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood of West Philadelphia.

It’s been a long road to reach this point. The redevelopment authority condemned and subsequently bought the site. Sixty-one new homes were built, albeit in a shoddy manner. At first, the city attempted to make repairs to the houses, but in 2000 an effort to buy the properties at fair market value was initiated.

The city ended up offering residents $190,000 for their properties and the city owned 36 of the houses, which are vacant and contributed to Osage Avenue becoming synonymous with the ills of urban blight. The redevelopment authority issued a request for proposals for developers to submit plans that would have them buy the sites and build new for-sale housing on them.

The redevelopment authority said it received two proposals through the RFP process. It didn’t disclose the name of the other entity that had submitted interest but was not selected. Greg Heller, executive director of the agency, said in a statement it picked AJR because it “has experience renovating and selling homes in Philadelphia, the financing and capacity to do this project the right way — with a high standard of work, and with sensitivity to the neighbors and community.”

AJR was recently in line to buy a community garden at Powelton Avenue and Wiota Street from the redevelopment authority where it planned to construct a residential project but that transaction didn’t happen.