City and transit officials broke ground on Paseo Verde this week, a $48 million mixed use “green” development in North Philadelphia.
The project, at the corner of 9th and Berks streets, adjacent to the campus of Temple University, is being hailed as a green development because of its proximity to SEPTA’s regional rail station.
The station, which is SEPTA’s fourth largest, serves 8,000 people a day.
“Paseo Verde represents another step toward Philadelphia becoming America’s greenest city. Once again, Philadelphia and its partners are demonstrating that affordable can be sustainable,” said Mayor Michael Nutter, who, along with state Sen. Shirley Kitchen, Council President Darrell Clarke, Joe Casey, general manager of the Southeastern Transportation Authority and a host of others plunged ceremonial shovels in the dirt to officially kick-off the project.
Clarke and Nutter, who once served on Council together, put their past competitiveness behind them for the event.
“I used to sit across from the mayor in City Council, and it could get a little competitive. We always wanted to see who could get more shovels,” joked Clarke. “Now, we share shovels.”
To highlight the eco-friendly nature of the project, the mayor, Clarke and Casey arrived by regional rail.
“We all came by train and we were on time,” Casey quipped, noting that several other dignitaries were late. “They probably drove.”
Clarke too, praised the ease with which officials arrived.
“I don’t do public transportation,” the council president said. “But, it was wonderful.”
Construction is expected wrap up in about 18 months.
The project includes 120 residential units, both market price and affordable housing. Officials said 17 units will be handicapped accessible.
In addition, Paseo Verde boasts 30,000 square feet of commercial and community space.
The fact that SEPTA is just steps away is not the only eco-friendly aspect of the project. The buildings will have blue roofs that store run-off water temporarily, green roofs that are planted with grass and trees, permeable paving, water gardens, solar panels and use recycled and renewable materials.
At the center of the project, the feature which gave the development its name, will be a series of green walkways connecting the development to Temple and a park on the west side of the tracks.
The city provided about $5.5 million to fund the project, with the remainder coming from private investors.
“This is now a place of choice,” Clarke said.
Kitchen commended the developer, Asociacion Puertorriqauenos en Marcha (APM), for its work in North Philadelphia, and for linking the project to transit.
“Nobody wanted to invest,” she said. “But, once urban transit started to take hold, the district came alive.”
Casey said that SEPTA plans to plough $1 million into the nearby Temple station upgrading platforms, adding bike racks and other upgrades.
“APM has been working for over 40 years on building better futures for our community,” said Nilda Ruiz, president of APM. “Paseo Verde is the culmination of that effort. This project will benefit our residents for generations to come.