HARRISBURG – May 27, 2021 – Today Senator Sharif Street announced $200,000 in Commonwealth Finance Authority (CFA) funding grants for blighted properties in North Philadelphia. Two grants will be awarded to two projects, Be a Gem Crossing and Dox Thrash House, to address blight and pave the way for affordable housing, commercial spaces and a cultural and community education center.
When development is finished, Be a Gem Crossing will be a mixed-use property including 41 affordable apartment homes, 12,900 sq. ft. of commercial space, and parking. It will sit on the site of the former North Liberty Motel, a space that has long been an epicenter for criminal activity. Grant funds will support the demolition of the hotel and seven other connected parcels, including the Southern Inn and the former Carmen Gardens roller skating rink. The project is being led by North10 Philadelphia, a community-focused foundation that supports several resident-driven revitalization and service initiatives.
“These grant funds support housing that will ultimately benefit our community, while also removing spaces that attract crime and unsafe conditions for residents in the area. I’m proud to announce this investment in infrastructure that will create new possibilities at the intersection of Germantown Avenue and Westmoreland Street.”, said Senator Street.
Dox Thrash House is the former home of African American pioneer, artist, and inventor Dox Thrash. The Philadelphia Historical Commission designated it for inclusion on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2013. In April 2021, the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania announced major investments for the North Philadelphia historical landmark to preserve the legacy of Thrash and Black history in Pennsylvania. The CFA Blight Program grant supports improvements which include additional stabilization, foundation work, structural framing, roofing, internal finishing, and mechanical work. Additionally, exterior improvements will be completed to ensure historical accuracy. The ultimate goal of the rehabilitation envisions the property as a cultural, community education, and economic development activities center.
“Supporting the rehabilitation of Dox Thrash House sends an important message about preserving the history of all who have left their imprint on our city. Philadelphia is the home of the Liberty Bell and where our US Constitution was signed, and it’s also home to many important moments and leaders in Black History,” said Street, “Revitalizing this space and making it available to the community is a perfect example of how we can blend the past and present to celebrate the culture and people of Philadelphia.”