Segal unwraps “a gift to our community” – the Anderson Apartments

John C. Anderson Apartments
The John C. Anderson Apartments were gift-wrapped for today’s formal dedication ceremony.

Success, the saying goes, has many fathers. And mothers, while we’re at it. And this morning, it seems, every last father of the successful John C. Anderson Apartments project at 249 S. 13th St. in Washington Square West’s Gayborhood turned out to praise the biggest, baddest mother of them all, Mark Segal.

Segal, longtime gay activist, founder and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, and president of the Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, was the driving force behind the project to create what Mayor Michael Nutter called “the largest building of its kind in the country” at today’s formal dedication ceremony. And just about every elected official who spoke at the dedication ceremony had a story to tell about Segal’s persistence in lining up the funding needed to bring the project to its successful completion. Continue reading

Lunchtime Quick Hits

Host Hotels unloads most of the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown for much less than it wanted; Philly’s apartment market did well this year, with rents rising and vacancies falling, but thankfully, rents still have far to go before they hit New York levels; an Associated Press story notes that the John C. Anderson Apartments, now open, address real needs in the LGBT community; and we may see a real rarity in the 2015 mayoral race – a real outsider in the running, though one from a politically connected church:

Center City Philly’s biggest hotel sold, cheap (PhillyDeals blog|
Philadelphia apartment market ends year on high note (Philadelphia Business Journal)
Affordable housing for gay seniors opens in Pa. (Associated Press via Yahoo! News)
Bright Hope pastor to run for mayor in 2015 (Philadelphia Daily News|

John C. Anderson Apartments continues quick construction

Architect's rendering of Anderson Apartments
Architect’s rendering of the John C. Anderson Apartments from Wallace, Roberts and Todd.

We reported last November on the groundbreaking for a very important project for the city of Philadelphia. The John C. Anderson Apartments, located at 249 S. 13th Street, are the first of their kind in Philadelphia and only the second in the nation. This complex, financed with public funds, will offer an LGBT-friendly environment for low-income seniors with staff and services attentive to their needs.

One of the region’s largest affordable housing developers, Pennrose Properties, has partnered with the Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund (dmhFund) to develop the project. The six-story structure will contain 56 one-bedroom units along with community rooms, an interior courtyard, and retail space along the first floor. Since November, this project has been moving along quickly, but this modern structure still has a few old-fashioned touches.

Affordable-housing builder Ingersoll LLP and attorneys Ballard, Spahr, Andrews submitted plans to the Zoning Board of Adjustment in July, and from the day the building was approved it was clear this project would be steadfast.  The plans submitted with the original permit applications included not only the apartments, retail, and community spaces but also bike parking spaces and a green roof with solar panels.  By August, Licenses and Inspections issued the zoning permits for new construction. In September, workers demolished the two-story Redevelopment Authority garage that had stood on the site.  The construction and design has been led by architecture firm Wallace, Roberts, and Todd LLC and contractors Domus.

13th Street elevation
The 13th Street elevation as it appeared at the beginning of July…

Just before November’s groundbreaking, work had already begun on the building’s plumbing in October. At the ceremony, the building was officially named the John C. Anderson Apartments, after the City Council member who had been an early champion of LGBT rights in Philly (and was himself gay and African-American). There wasn’t too much time to celebrate, though, since there was plenty of work to be done, and the project continued to build on and upward.

...and the Camac Street elevation on the same date.

By December, plumbing contractors received permits for the installation of bathrooms and kitchens in the units. The structure’s frame and inner walls are now complete, as these photos from early July show, and on a more recent visit, we saw construction workers hand-laying bricks—which is not commonly practiced these days. In the past few months, L&I has approved the HVAC, sprinkler systems, and electrical work.

Brickwork on Camac Street elevation
One week later, a rare sight: bricklayers constructing the exterior walls by hand. Photo by Sandy Smith.

Early last month, the John C. Anderson Apartments held its official topping-out ceremony, where Mayor Michael Nutter and the project benefactors witnessed the placing of the last steel beam for the building’s frame. At the same time, the developer began advertising for a property manager. 

Photos by the author except as noted