Philadelphia Housing Authority Opens Green Seniors Apartment Building
The Philadelphia Housing Authority has ushered in a new era of environmentally friendly public housing with the opening of Nellie Reynolds Gardens, a 64-apartment building for seniors with an adult daily living center in North Philadelphia.
Ceremonies were held in the building's indoor "garden" under a large glass atrium, where new residents were joined by the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Steve Preston, who came to help celebrate PHA's latest public-private partnership, costing $21.2 million.
"This facility exemplifies PHA's commitment to help our senior residents live with the kind of dignity they've earned. It also underscores how seriously we take our role as custodians of the environment," said PHA Executive Director Carl Greene.
The building features a 20,000 square foot "green" roof with natural vegetation that absorbs rainwater and prevents it from running off into an already over-taxed city sewer system. The green roof also retains heat during winter and has a cooling effect in the summer, reducing energy usage by about 15 percent. The complex also includes "Green Label" carpet (for better indoor air quality), environmentally friendly paints and primers, and Energy Star appliances and fixtures.
The low-income seniors lucky enough to be moving in can spend free time in a sun-drenched 3,000 square foot community room. Those needing a framework of daily activities can take advantage of the older adult daily living center, scheduled to open in early 2009.
"Locating services and housing in the same complex has proven to be a great success in the two other locations where we have used this model. Working with the Department of Public Welfare, we have put PHA on track to cost effectively meet the demand of the growing number of aging seniors in Philadelphia," Director Greene said.
The building's name is a natural. Long-time public housing resident leader and advocate Nellie Reynolds managed a community garden on the land for many years. When PHA decided to build the new facility on the site of Nellie Reynolds' garden, the agency named the building as a tribute to Reynolds' 40 years of leadership in the movement for public housing residents' rights and responsibilities.
Like virtually all of PHA's newly built developments, Nellie Reynolds Gardens represents a combination of federal funding and private investment. Wachovia Bank and MMA Financial provided the private investment.
The residential portion of the building cost $15.7 million. The commercial portion - including the adult daily living center - cost $2.5 million, and the public infrastructure - including the green roof - cost $3 million.
Said Greene, "Secretary Preston came into office this year promising to take a fresh look at the issues. He kept his word and showed strong, principled leadership in resolving our differences. We are grateful that he accepted our invitation to help dedicate this wonderful new place."
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