“Though Keith is a master at building buildings, this is about building lives. We are going to transform this community,” Burgess said. “Now I grew up in Homewood, but my ‘summer vacation’ was to spend two weeks here in Addison with my aunt. I even dated a girl from Elmore Square, and I can tell you from experience—good things come from the Hill.”
City Councilman and URA board member R. Daniel Lavelle, whose family has been an institution in the Hill for three generations, also praised the project for the way it compliments developments like the SHOP ‘n SAVE.
“It’s a little chilly today, but the sun is shining and it’s a great day in the Hill because we are going to reconnect this community to Centre Avenue,” he said. “This is a shining example of what can happen when you invest in people.”
Howard Slaughter, policy committee chair for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, said he was pleased the agency could provide $28 million in tax credits for the first phase of the project, and joked that while he only visited the Hill while growing up, he did have a PhD.
Both County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and housing authority Executive Director Caster D. Binion lauded the project for how it will contribute jobs to the Hill District.
As to that, Key said he was scheduled to meet later in the day with representatives from the city’s Equal Opportunity Review Commission and the African American Chamber of Commerce about minority contracting participation.
“We’ll have another meeting with contractors the week of May 13 and bids will go out the following week,” he said. “Also we’re going to have someone counting the number of minority workers actually on site every day, and we’ll publish a monthly news letter on the project that will include those numbers because hiring minority contractors is great, but not if they don’t use minority workers.”
Community Empowerment Association Founder and contractor Rashad Byrdsong said this project will help employ Blacks across the city.
“The difference between this and projects like Bakery Square 2 is that here you have the developer, the general contractor, the politicians and the community groups working together from the beginning,” he said. “That’s what you need.”
If all goes as scheduled, Key said the first residents will begin occupying the new units in the fall of 2014.
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