North10 breaks ground on Be a Gem Crossing, transforming the once Liberty Hotel into affordable housing in a promising section of Germantown Avenue.
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood with local residents, project partners and stakeholders gathering to celebrate the official groundbreaking by North10, of Be a Gem Crossing – a mixed-use, adaptive reuse development on the former site of the notorious Liberty Motel, once a focal point of crime in the Hunting Park-East Tioga area. A drumline performed at the busy intersection of West Westmoreland Street and Germantown Avenue as several community and civic leaders greeted members of the community before donning hard hats and shovels for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
As a community-backbone organization supported by the H. Chase Lenfest Foundation, North10 Philadelphia has developed a plan to transform the Germantown Commercial Corridor and “liberate” surrounding neighborhoods with the addition of 41 affordable housing units and 12,500 square feet of commercial space. The project will provide low-income families with one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments on each floor, as well as community rooms and laundry facilities.
“The neighbors, the children and the families of Hunting Park-East Tioga deserve to live in a community where they can feel safe, and have access to affordable dignified housing, and learning opportunities that can help them create a future,” the group explained in a statement. “As the parent organization of the Lenfest Center, North10 collaborates with partners to facilitate strategic, resident-driven revitalization and service initiatives that foster economic growth, increase housing options, enhance learning opportunities, and promote wellness.”
Be a Gem Crossing is the latest in a series of innovative urban renewal projects from North10. Others include the 10th Street Community Market, a $3 million capital project that will transform the Lenfest Center into a state-of-the-art community center serving Hunting Park-East, and a park at the Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School to make the schoolyard a safe, community-centered gathering place.
During the midday event, Bethune students waved City of Philadelphia flags as they pressed their noses through the schoolyard fence to witness the smoke cannons go off and the block party festivities got underway as the day continued.