New Port Richmond group opposes Grace Townhomes

A brand-new Port Richmond community group, Port Richmond Action Community Association West, voted 22-2 against the proposed Grace Townhomes development at its first meeting on Wednesday, March 12.

The group, called PACA for short, is the first registered community organization to oppose the project. 

The development would turn a vacant block at 2201 E. Auburn St. into 36 below-market-rate rental units for residents who meet certain income guidelines.

Other Port Richmond groups have voted as follows:

• Port Richmond Community Group voted 18-5 in favor of the project in January. 

• New Kensington Community Development Corporation, in partnership with Somerset Neighbors for Better Living, which is not yet a registered community organization, conducted a vote on Monday, March 10. 

The total vote of residents living within one-quarter mile of the site was 27-18 in favor of the development, but the local vote of residents living within 500 feet of the site was tied 4-4. 

In NKCDC’s letter of support to the zoning board, the group listed some of residents’ recommendations, including adding an on-site management office, increased street lighting and a space for youth to play to the plans. 

• Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic deferred on the issue to Port Richmond Community Group.

PACA President Maurice Campbell said he distrusted the NKCDC/SNBL vote. 

“The meeting was very packed and almost everyone was against the townhouses being built,” he said in an email to Star. 

Campbell, whose address is listed a block away from the proposed development, has told Star that he opposed the project because it would be for low-income renters, who he worried would bring violence to the neighborhood.

Tess Donie of NKCDC said the organization follows the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s best practices for zoning votes. 

“NKCDC is a pro at this,” she said.

Some people who go to church in the neighborhood but don’t live within one-quarter mile of the site were unable to participate in the vote, she said. 

The Women’s Community Revitalization Project, the nonprofit developer behind the project, is scheduled to present its appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday, March 26, at 2 p.m. at 1515 Arch St., 18th floor. ••