US Construction then contacted former City Councilman Frank DiCicco and offered to work out a deal. They started working with new Councilman Mark Squilla when he took office in January.
Jessica Calter, a spokesman for the Friends of Manton Street Park, said the group signed an agreement with the developer on Feb. 17.
As part of the deal, US Construction agreed to allow the city to retain the property at 405 and 407 Manton St., while neighbors agreed not to oppose construction of three houses at 409 and 411 Manton, and another nearby vacant lot. US Construction will also help with landscaping and fencing the park, which will connect with a community garden created on a lot facing 4th Street.
"It's one of those situations where we were able to open up communications and everyone was able to get something," Calter said.
Calter said the neighborhood became closer because people came out of their homes at least once a week between June and November to work together. The park had even been featured on the South Philly Garden Tour in September.
Grigos said US Construction, which has done redevelopment projects in East Kensington, Northern Liberties, Fishtown and Queen Village, simply wants to be good neighbors.
"They really believe in Philadelphia and they believe in the neighborhoods," Grigos said. "They walked away from one house and a little bit of profit. They believe things like [the park] are good for the neighborhood and good for their product."
Michael DiBerardinis, deputy mayor for environmental and community resources, said he is eager to put the lots back into the Parks Department's inventory.
"These kind of well-maintained assets help the neighborhood's revival and support people staying in the city," DiBerardinis said.
Contact Valerie Russ at 215-854-5987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.