Groundbreaking at John C.
Anderson Apartments.

PHILADELPHIA–The city of Philadelphia by the end of next year will have the first urban LGBT-friendly low-income senior housing development in the country. Work began on the $19.5-million project on Friday with the official groundbreaking for the John C. Anderson Apartments at 249 S. 13th St. Among the dignitaries on hand for the event included Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, US Congressman Robert Brady and a number of LGBT-civil rights activists.

The project involves the repositioning of a Redevelopment Authority garage into a six-story residence that will contain 56 one-bedroom apartments. The Energy Star 3.0 building will feature a vegetated green roof and solar thermal hot water system, a 5,000–sf enclosed courtyard and nearly 2,000 sf of ground floor retail.

The building was originally called the William Way Apartments but was later renamed after the late Philadelphia City Councilman John C. Anderson (1979-1983) who championed the passage of the city’s civil rights bill for sexual minorities. The project will not be exclusive to LGBT low-income senior residents.

Financing for the venture was provided through a Philadelphia HOME grant, Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. Pennrose Properties is overseeing the project. WRT Design is the architect and Domus Inc. has been tabbed as the general contractor. All three firms are based in Philadelphia.

The project is spearheaded by dmhFund president and gay rights activist Mark Segal. “I’ve observed the challenging journeys of so many other LGBT senior housing developments and I knew the key to our success would have to be taking a different approach to funding by focusing outside the LGBT community, and going after the same money available to other communities for their low-income seniors,” says Segal.

He continues, “It’s heartening to know that officials from both sides of the aisle are understanding and supportive of our efforts to help our aging community members live out their golden years in comfort and dignity. With our numbers only continuing to rise, now is the perfect time.”

The project is expected to be completed in December 2013. Information on the process to apply for a unit in the John C. Anderson Apartments will be available on the dmhFund website (www.dmhfund.org) in early 2013.