Sanchez, civic association strike deal on Norris Square homes

Posted: June 26, 2012

THEY WAITED for a day of celebration, the Norris Square Civic Association's annual Neighborhood Festival on Saturday, to finally announce an agreement on how many houses will be built at the site of the former St. Boniface Church.

Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and the association's executive director, Patricia DeCarlo, issued a joint statement Saturday confirming what the Daily News reported on June 1 ---- that the civic association has agreed to scrap its earlier plan to build 15 units of co-op housing, which some neighborhood critics believed would eventually become more rental apartments.

Under the memorandum signed May 25, the civic association agreed to build "no more than 8 units of homeownership housing, each with two private off-street parking spaces with appropriate facades to match the look of the Square."

In recent months, community residents were divided as DeCarlo and Sanchez, the two most powerful women working to improve that area of North Philadelphia, held fast to opposing viewpoints on how to develop the former St. Boniface church campus, at Diamond and Hancock streets.

Sanchez said many residents complained to her that they were worried that too many people were converting large Victorian homes on the square into rentals. She said they worried about the extra units causing traffic and congestion. Meanwhile, supporters of DeCarlo praised the longtime community activist and lawyer for her commitment to providing affordable housing for lower-income residents.

Under the agreement, Sanchez will help the civic group acquire other sites to complete the plan to create a total of 15 housing units.

Contact Valerie Russ at 215-854-5987 or russv@phillynews.com.

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