Based on a national model, the NewCourtland LIFE Center will provide daytime activities as well as health services, on-site therapy, and personal-care help. It is expected to open in 18 months.
The idea is to allow older residents in North Philadelphia to remain in their homes while receiving support from the center during the day, said Gail Kass, president of NewCourtland, a nonprofit housing and service provider for senior citizens.
The model, Kass said, allows people "to stay in the community for as long as they want to be."
While the project is a milestone for NewCourtland - its third LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) center in Philadelphia - it represents an equally important turning point for the neighborhood.
Ronald E. Hinton Jr., president of the Allegheny West Foundation, a nonprofit development corporation, said the community had endured more than its share of business closings over the last three decades.
But the NewCourtland project, at 1900 W. Allegheny Ave., is "a great signal and a great symbol" of the neighborhood's renewal, Hinton said.
Other projects include:
The 30-acre Bakers Centre at Hunting Park Avenue and Fox Street, a shopping center that will open in 2013 and include a Shop Rite and Ross Dress for Less on land once used by Tasty Baking Co.
The Budd Commerce Center, located in the former headquarters of the railcar manufacturer on Hunting Park Avenue, which includes the new offices for Temple University's administrative services and health system.
The $67 million Salvation Army Kroc Center, a community center on 12 acres near Wissahickon and Hunting Park Avenues.
Amid the many empty industrial buildings that still scar the area, there are now projects to point to, Hinton said, that show the neighborhood "is moving in a better direction."
With the old Stanley Blacker suit factory, the city used funds from the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative of the John F. Street administration to acquire and demolish the seven-story brick building and rehabilitate the land.
NewCourtland bought the property seven years ago from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for $80,000, Kass said.
The LIFE Center, which will occupy three acres, is the first phase of the project. She said the nonprofit developer hopes to add at least 120 units of affordable housing for senior citizens on the remaining two acres. NewCourtland already manages about 500 units of affordable housing for elderly renters.
"The future of senior care is to provide housing so people can stay in their community," Kass said. "We could keep people out of nursing homes."
To finance the LIFE center, NewCourtland received federal "new market" tax credits as well as a state redevelopment grant. It also used its own equity, Kass said.
The LIFE center will operate on funds from Medicare and Medicaid, she added.
State Sen. Shirley Kitchen, a Democrat who represents the neighborhood, called the revitalization of the Stanley Blacker site "a victory for the area."
City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who grew up 10 blocks away, said the LIFE center was more than just another development for her.
"This is deeply personal," Bass said. The project, she added, was evidence that "this neighborhood is changing. It's turning around."
Contact Jennifer Lin at 215-854-5659 or email@example.com, or on Twitter @j_linq.