Watch and follow along with our searchable transcript for developer’s proposal & audience Q&A
Germantown has been buzzing lately with redevelopment plans in the works — again! — for two beloved historic landmarks: Germantown High School and Germantown YWCA. The high school’s big community meeting is coming up November 16th but meanwhile Councilmember Cindy Bass just hosted a presentation with KBK Enterprises. Their project involves the revitalization of the neighborhood’s old Y, a big old stone building that’s been sitting dormant on the edge of a park (adjacent to a senior center) for like 20 years — with a plan for senior housing stalled for 7 years despite a local developer’s neighborhood-approved plan that Cindy rejected outright in 2015.
The new plan, then, is basically to refurbish the YWCA building into 45 residential units (1 & 2 bedrooms and studios) with “affordable” rents around $1,200/month. Scroll down to the red text for more project details, including possible amenities and parking (18 spaces confirmed so far). Review KBK Enterprises presentation pdf here.
So there’s some community tension over this property that’s worth looking into. Many of the links here will provide context, timelines, and even video/recaps of other meetings. This transcription is provided here without commentary (and with minimal editing); we did our best to guess what each speaker was saying, but we’ve included time stamps so you can go to that point in the video to see for yourself what’s being said (and make your own conclusions).
Big thanks to Germantown InfoHub and PhillyCAM for documenting and sharing this important content to youtube, which we can conveniently include this recap. Please read more about this meeting in WHYY’s excellent article (and also in the Chestnut Hill Local).
COMMUNITY MEETING: Thursday October 12, 2023
Developer presentation for historic Germantown YWCA building proposal by KBK Enterprises, a real estate development corporation with offices in Columbus, OH and Pittsburgh, PA. kbkenterprises.net. View KBK’s plans for the Germantown YWCA here (to date, info has not been updated and includes no renderings, floor plans, or site maps, or explanation).
Facilitator (Terressa Thompson, Cindy Bass’s Deputy Chief of Staff) 06:48
Thank you for coming tonight in have taken the opportunity to hear the presentation from KBK. Just to give you guys a rundown of how we’re gonna do tonight. Councilwoman Bass will speak, introduce the developers, they will have their presentation. We will be taking questions.
I will tell you how the rules are going to go. You will only be allowed to ask one question, then you must go back to your seat before the developer, KBK, will answer questions must be asked within a one minute timeframe. If you seek further information regarding your question, you can fill out a questionnaire card that is at the table. Make sure you leave your email, we will definitely follow up with an email with that information.
And please we ask that you be silent, while KBK answers each question. If you’re not compliant with the rules, you will be asked to leave. And now Councilwoman Bass.
Cindy Bass 08:28
Thank you so much. Well, good evening, everybody. So we’re here tonight for a very important meeting, as we all know, to talk about the Germantown Y and its development. It’s been a hot topic for a while now. And so we really look forward to hearing KBK’s presentation and answering your questions directly. I do want to just go over a little bit of history, because I think history is important.
You know, this is a very controversial project and it’s become, you know, just quite contentious among neighbors, among people in the community for a lot of different reasons. But we all want to see that space developed into something that is going to be an asset to the Germantown Community. So let’s start from there. And what I would like to do is just go back over a little bit of history, because I think history is extremely important here. I want to just state a couple of facts. And the first fact is that the Y is owned by PRA, which is the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.
Okay. The owner controls who does what, and when, just like you do in your home. And again, it’s owned by the Redevelopment Authority. They decide when to sell, when to transfer, when to allow work, etc. And just to reiterate the Y is and has been owned by the Redevelopment Authority for a very long time now. Originally, when this project went out to bid, there was only one bidder. I asked PRA to send it back out to bid and see what else comes up. Is there anyone else who’s interested in this proposal, which is not uncommon. I was hopeful for a developer that was either minority or developer that had a strong history of working with minority subcontractors.
There were two bidders, and one of those bidders was KBK. We asked to see the Redevelopment Authority scoring for both proposals, we noticed that the non-minority score was higher. Because he was counted as a minority, he was given extra points, because he was counted as a minority. Furthermore, KBK’s score was lower, because they were listed as a non-minority. And that is not the case. My office pointed this out to the Redevelopment Authority. And some time later, the Redevelopment Authority came back and made the correction and said that after fixing their error that they were then awarding the project to KBK. And it was based on their scoring system. So I want to underscore that it was awarded by the Redevelopment Authority, based on their scoring system, their decision. Let me back up their decision with my support.
I want to make it clear that if we had not asked to see this scoring, this firm would have been excluded from development in Philadelphia. Furthermore, I cannot understand and still have not been given a proper explanation as to how that even occurred in the first place. There are always mistakes, but in a city that always claims to look at all development through a racial equity lens, it was clear that this was a failure.
There were red flags regarding PRA’s lack of support from the very beginning. When KBK submitted their application, the Redevelopment denied ever even receiving the application package. They had to prove that they sent it, they had to produce a receipt that it was sent. And then after producing the receipt, Redevelopment Authority acknowledged that they had it all along. They were told it was a three and a half month process from PRA.
Obviously that wasn’t the case. It was more like six months to the awarding. And from November 2017 to June 2020, which is approximately two and a half years., KBK was told by the Redevelopment Authority that it was absolutely necessary — a requirement — that they obtain specific historic tax credits to be able to pursue this deal (this was in writing). Unable to do so, after spending a lot of time and a lot of money in this endeavor. And once KBK returned back to the Redevelopment Authority and said “we can’t obtain these tax credits. It is impossible.”
The Redevelopment Authority’s response was “Well it wasn’t mandatory.” But in writing, it says that it is mandatory. So we missed almost three years on a wild goose chase. We then missed another three years with the pandemic. And so here we are right now. The facts speak for themselves. Minority developers, and specifically black developers, have had a harder time working in the city of Philadelphia. It is undeniable. Black and other minority developers should have the opportunity to perform. And I would say that a few minority developers have had a significant opportunity to perform on the large scale projects, not just in Germantown, but throughout the city of Philadelphia.
This developer, was expected to develop without ownership, without site control, and without even a developer’s agreement, which is totally unfair. It’s not KBK’s building. It’s not Cindy Basses building. It’s the Redevelopment’s building, period. The owner of this job is the Redevelopment Authority. And we all want the same things. I’m committed to ensuring this property gets developed. And I ask for your support as we travel this route together and hold the property owner, PRA, responsible for the conditions of our community.
What has been crafted as a narrative that has been circulating, which is quite unacceptable, is that KBK, which has developed — I’ll let Keith say how much they’ve developed — but I know that this is would be the smallest project in their portfolio, which goes into the billions — that’s billions with a B. This would be the smallest project in their portfolio. But somehow they’ve been crafted as inexperienced, unqualified, and unable to do this project.
Now, many of you may remember a community conversation that we had, a public conversation about the Y when there was concern about the stabilization of the Y. It was well-documented in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and it can be checked out still online. And these conversations included a commitment from the Kenney administration for $2 million. Our commitment was another $2 million from NTI dollars — “Neighborhood Transformation Initiative” dollars. We immediately made the commitment. I made the commitment that we were putting up $2 million to stabilize this building. The Kenney administration also said they were putting in $2 million to save this building. Right?
The city’s money never materialized. My money did. But the city’s money, despite the commitment, did not show up to stabilize this building. And what happened as a result of that is rather than putting in the $4 million, it left a gap of $2 million worth of work that should have been done at that time. That $2 million gap from 2015 or 2016, has become much larger now. And it’s part of the reason that this project has not taken off in the way that it should have.
And so with all that being said, I want to invite Keith to come up and say a few words and to give his presentation and then we’re going to take as many questions as we can. It’s 6:21 pm now and we’ll take questions until 7:30 then we’ll be here until 8:00 if anyone wants to come up, have personal conversations, ass questions that they don’t feel comfortable asking out loud. But there’s a lot that’s gone into this project, and now, at this point, what can we do to make it happen? We all want to see this happen! What can we do? And so I’m going to turn it over to Keith so we can hear what we can do and how we can all benefit from this asset being developed in our community.
Keith Key with KBK 20:09
First, I want to thank you for coming out tonight. For me, just shows me the importance not only with the project from my perspective, but obviously it’s important for everybody here as well. And we’ve been here for a couple of meetings now. And so this is really a meeting for us to update you on where we are. Some of the things that we think are going to be highlights to the transformation of this building. We really want to give you a sense of comfort in terms of where we are and where we’re going. And who we are, as a company, some of you I’ve met before, some of you have not met.
So I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of the fact that you know, for some of us, this is our first chance to meet. And I don’t want to mess that up, I don’t want to go into something where we’re starting off playing defense, I want to start off saying, “Hi, my name is Keith.” At some point, I’ll get to know your name. And we’ll start off from zero. And we’ll take it from there, because I don’t want to start off in a negative posture. And so that’s hopefully a commitment we can make to each other.
That will hopefully transpire into building a relationship, because I’m a relationship guy, that’s part of the reason why I’m still here. As Councilman Bass mentioned, this project is — although significant — it’s our smallest project. But it’s significant in understanding the significance of it. And that’s why I took it on. And that’s why I didn’t bail either, it would have been easy to bail, just walk away and let things transpire and never come back again. But I made a promise.
Now I’ve never walked away from a promise in my life. And so I wanted to make sure you knew who I am as a person, as an individual. And somebody who at least you know from the start, I’m not the kind of guy to run, I’m not the kind of guy to walk away. Never have been and never will be. And so I’m going to start the presentation. And along the way, I’ll add some other highlights. But I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of time as well, because at some point, I can talk a little bit. But I don’t want to talk too much. I want to leave room for Q&A.
Jamie, you can get us started (at laptop). So this was our goal from day one. For those of you who came to the first meeting this was our goal, to really start off with. How do we make sure this transformation occurs? To create a sense of place and make it sustainable. We wanted to make sure those were kind of those overarching themes that we started off with and that we maintained throughout the process.
A little bit about KBK Enterprises, we’ve been around now for 25 years. We’ve done over a billion dollars worth of development, we’ve contributed millions of dollars to supportive services. We have record-breaking experiences in terms of minority participation. Section 3 hiring — for those of you who don’t know what Section 3 hiring is, it’s a commitment that when you take some federal funds, you work hard to make sure people who are low income have access to jobs.
And we have the national record right now in New Orleans, we did a huge project there. One of “the Big Four” they called it. It was a quarter of a billion dollar project. And we hired about 168 people from the neighborhood who were public housing residents, hired them for various skills. 90% of which came off public assistance. To me that’s a real transformation when you start off on public assistance and get off of public assistance because you’re working. And this was a project that we took great pride in and the Secretary of HUD recognized us for having the largest in the country.
Some of the other experiences there we’re one of the largest in terms of minority businesses in this space, PFHA, which is the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. I was the recognized with a Pioneer Award in 2017, or 18. That’s a big deal. First, being a pioneer made me feel old. But also it made me realize we’ve done so much work in Pennsylvania, we’ve done about nine or 10 transactions in the state of Pennsylvania, and we’re going to be pursuing potential tax credits for this project as well. But again, we’re a known commodity. I’ve done speaking engagements for them. I’ve done training. But to win a Pioneer Award was something that was very special for us.
We have the largest Enterprise Grenn Community in southern Pennsylvania. This was a huge project that we did in Pittsburgh, and Enterprise Green is almost akin to like LEED certification, which is sustainable communities making sure environmentally everything was done appropriately in terms of waste, and water, all the things that really make a project sustainable. And the last one was the largest tax credit award.
So for those people who may think we don’t know tax credits, we did the largest tax return syndication in American history. We syndicated $69 million of tax credits and in one allocation, that’s unheard of. Never happened in American history before, probably may not ever happen again. It was a large project, of course, after Hurricane Katrina. So we were able to actually source that particular development. And this was one of the worst economic times in 2007.
So those are some of the highlights of KBK enterprises. Let me show you a few of our buildings. So this is a project, I wonder if you can see it very well. Or if you can make it bigger. But anyway, this was one of my first housing developments in Columbus, Ohio. We did some commercial projects, which was the beginning of my business, when I first got started was commercial development, office, medical facilities, things of that nature. In this housing development was not far from there was all Section Eight. It was crime ridden — it was called “Uzi Alley“, because it was so crime ridden, it was the number one crime location in northeast Columbus.
And so the residents had a meeting similar to this and they said, Hey, we need you to do something. And I’m like “Who me?” But they wanted us to be involved. We had done so much work on the commercial side, they want us to be involved in the residential side. And we said, okay, let’s figure this thing out. So we dealt with this project in a unique way, it was a co-op, so we put a proposal in to buy it and redevelop it.
Tough project, one of the hardest projects I think ever did, and I didn’t know why at the time until it was over. And found out we did what was called the first IRP decoupling in the country, which was a major financial feat $45 – $48 million project, we redeveloped it. To this day, I still own it. It’s one of my crown jewels in terms of what we’ve done in around the country. The secretary recognized this as the best rehab he’s seen in the country. This was 2007, no 2010 when it was done.
And so after being recognized as one of the largest and best rehabs in the country, he really put us on the map in terms of other cities and other places starting to reach out to us asking about IRP decouplings, and about how you do large scale rehabs. This is in Pittsburgh, a neighborhood called Garfield, one of the three or four neighborhoods I grew up in, in public housing, where sometimes you move a lot. And so born in The Hill, moved out to Garfield. And this project came up for bid. And so I bid for it. And I won the project.
And at a city council meeting, people were popping up in the city council saying “I remember Keithy”. So when someone called me “Keithy” I knew it had to be somebody who helped raise me. And there were people say, “I remember you as a little boy, going around selling Avon with your mom.” And now I’m here, you know doing a $100 million deal in my own neighborhood. And I don’t know if you can imagine how gratifying that was to be a public housing kid to go back to your old neighborhood where people you grew up with still live, and do $100 million deal.
Fascinating. It changed my life. Literally, my mom was still staying in the neighborhood as well. But this was something that was was a joy for us. We put a lot of time, talent, and effort into this project. This is just some of the highlight photos of it. At that time, it was the largest award for any minority business in the city of Pittsburgh’s history. We had the largest number of minority participation and Section 3 participation. We hired people. The first meeting I had to get minority contractors out, nobody came. And I had to call everybody and tell them to come and they said we’re too tired to come in because we bid for things that never get selected. And we’re tired of coming out to bid for things and not get selected because it’s time consuming. It’s gut wrenching. It’s psychologically overwhelming.
So I promised them I said, “Listen, you know, I’m going to make sure this happens. So I need you to come just to come and give me a chance. I promise you, I’m going to do everything I can.” And we did some pretty fascinating things to make that happen. But that top picture gives you a sense of scale. So, a huge project.
And if you know Pittsburgh’s topography, it’s pretty heavy in terms of hilly and undermining and all the other things that go along with being on top of a mining community. And so we redeveloped it and it’s a beautiful neighborhood then and now. Very very special to me. This is the Pride Center. Pride is a friend of mine who died before it was done. His name was Pride River so we named the center after him because he lived nearly across the street from where this was built.
This is a project in New Orleans. Again, it was a quarter of a billion dollar project, major development. We started from scratch. They put out four projects for bid. All of them were $250 million each. We were the only minority company that won. To the councilman’s point it was amazing. At one of the meetings they asked me, “Would I be willing to sign an affidavit that I’m truly a minority company?” I said, “Wow, I have to sign an affidavit to say I’m black? I think I’m black.” They said, “Mr. Key, I want you to know, if you sign this document and you’re lying, it’s a federal offense.” I said, “Well, I’m pretty sure I’m black.” So I signed it.
But they were amazing. They said they’ve never met a black developer that can do a quarter of a billion dollar deal. And that made me realize how unique I was in the market. I really didn’t know, I hadn’t traveled as much. I didn’t know how rare we were in other cities where there were more black people. There’s a lot of black people in New Orleans if you’ve ever been there, but nobody had risen to the level of doing something of that scale.
So we won that project. Got it done. It’s beautiful. I was there two weeks ago, to visit it. Still a beautiful place. Going very well. You can see how far it is from the Superdome, it’s literally in walking distance. Those of you who remember Hurricane Katrina, those were the guys were holding the American flag, and you know, the “Come help me” sign. That broke my heart personally, because I said, this is America. Amazing, that that I was watching something from a third world country, somebody on top of a roof and come save me, and no one would come.
He literally spent weeks and months, literally in his apartment. And he wrote every day on the wall, we carved out the wall and preserved it. It’s actually in the Katrina museum now, because he wrote and chronicled his life every day. And it was going through Hell literally talking about people screaming at night and his word about being robbed and killed. And so these were experiences that were happening right here in our country. But when I first saw it on TV, I thought I can do something more than just send a box of clothes and a couple of dollars, I just went there to visit. And before you knew it, I built a relationship with that community. And we bid for the project and won.
This is a project that we just recently finished in Pittsburgh, it’s called Skyline Terrace. It’s a showpiece a lot of people who are in the housing space, they come to Pittsburgh, this is on the map, the mayor’s office visited. We have constant visitors there. This won national awards for design, we won every state award for design. This is the largest Green Enterprise Community in western Pennsylvania. We had record participation. After this project, we won the key to the city for our work in Section 3 and MWBE. So this really, really transformed how far things can go.
You can see how close it is to downtown and that sign I’m holding that was my dad’s address before he died. So he grew up on The Hill as well. And that was, again, for me part of the development, we had to tear down some public housing. One of the things that was important to me that everybody had a chance to come back, it wasn’t about removing people. So we literally made sure every single resident that lived there before had first priority to come back. That was important to me. And Housing Authority supported that as well.
But just to have, again, a testament kept that address for my dad’s address, just to be able to know that this stuff means something. This is our moniker for KBK Enterprises — it’s beyond bricks and mortar, beyond bricks and sticks. And it really means for us, it’s not about the brick and mortar, the easy part. It’s about people. If we’re not doing something to do something right for people, we don’t want to be a part of it. It’s just not for us good enough just to build buildings.
I think we build beautiful buildings. But in the end, it’s the people who are there are we doing the right things, taking care of them. And we built scholarship funds, we’ve made a promise to every resident that I’ve ever built a facility for. If my mother can’t live there, I won’t let you live there. And I want to treat your kids like I treat my kids because my kids can go to college and so can you yours. If I have to help — and I’ve funded scholarships for a number of our residents throughout the country.
Some more pictures of Skyline. Again, beautiful place, some of the Pittsburgh’s topography is crazy. But you can see we use that to our advantage and really build something that’s picturesque, everybody who sees it thinks it’s all market. It’s about 30% market. And so we have different economic tranches there. So, you know, the funniest thing I think, that I’ve ever seen was I was outside one day talking to a family, one of the residents was a doctor and the doctor had their kids playing outside and I said “Hey, what are you doing? What dare you gonna be when you grow up?” “I want to be a doctor like my dad,” and the other kid said, “Well, I’m as smart as this kid, I want to be a doctor, too.”
I said, “That’s what changes community right there. For poor kid like me who’d never seen a doctor or meeting a doctor, now to actually live next door to a doctor? And believe you can do it too? That’s a game changer. And so I’m a big advocate of really providing access to residents from different economic strata to make sure they know everything’s possible. This community center kind of has that Frank Lloyd Wright sort of design, we won some awards for that community center as well. We’re a big believer in supportive services.
So all of our properties, we have a supportive service person — we have a foundation, I should have mentioned that. And so there’s a KBK Enterprises and a KBK Foundation, and our foundation commits to a lot of supportive service work. And we fund that a lot of times through our own money through some grants from different agencies. But in large part, that’s our commitment to really be involved in a way that actually will pay for staff and pay for other resources.
Again, some more photos. So this is phase two, I thought was important. You can’t see it in the background, but you’ll see it in a second. There’s a building back there, Phase Two actually showed a cascade of other properties going to it, but it terminates at the end of the road with this building that’s very similar in size and scale to the Germantown Y building. So I thought that’d be interesting to see, because we’ve actually incorporated that into a housing mix, that are townhomes.
And then it ends with this development and facility that has a lot of the services and a variety of units — apartments and studios — we have a mixed income base in there. But it’s something that, again, from an operation’s standpoint is very, very similar. So here’s a front range view of it, it has its own park in the back, it’s gated, we have an attendant who’s there to kind of manage and monitor people coming and going. It has outside activities there, it has a patio for having barbecues, and so forth.
This is not too far from Pitt University. So we have a unique occurrence that most of our residents that are in the two bedrooms, they are residents in their residency program there to become a doctor. And so it’s a unique mix of some seniors, some young people, some families who are there in medical school. And so it’s a unique space. When I’ve been involved in some of their activities at that facility, it’s always exciting because the doctors who were there, all the seniors feel extra safe, knowing that there’s a doctor probably every other door that they can knock on if they have any medical needs. But that just happened to be the case, we didn’t market it to them that way, it just became part of their experience. What’s next.
So the next piece I want to go into is really the project description. And for those of you who were here before, you can look to the next screen. You may remember the presentation was really about 47 units. And we were looking at targeting a Marketplace of 115% AMI (Area Median Income). And that was making sure it was Workforce Development. So that was the initial strategy because that was the space that we thought important to kind of serve that Marketplace.
A lot of the people who we had talked to who lived in Germantown, a lot of people were moving out of Germantown because there wasn’t housing available for people to continue to grow. And so especially when they were young professionals, if they were looking for a home or looking for something that was larger, it worked, but it was much more challenging finding somebody who had just graduated, got their first job, looking for a place to stay or an empty-nester wanting to stay in a neighborhood and pay market rent and have certain features that they couldn’t get at the time in the Marketplace.
So we looked at that as a strategy and looked at how that would work. And again, the councilwoman went through all the history, so I won’t go through that a whole lot. But in retooling this process throughout this entire time — and part of that retooling said, “Well, the affordability has changed.” When we first started the project to now, the Area Median Income has gone up almost $40,000 per person. Now, when you hear that it sounds like it’s all real, but it’s not all real, right?
That’s just Market information. Sometimes that doesn’t apply to people of color, you know? Our income growth doesn’t happen the same way as the Market. So when you hear someone out there saying “I didn’t get $40,000 more in the last five years”, and you probably didn’t. But that means that there’s a marketplace that exists that has an upward trajectory. So that what was workforce housing then, is now affordable. So the market has changed quite a bit.
For those of you who obviously lived through this experience, and you have a business, you’ve probably dealt with it firsthand in terms of interest rate increases, in terms of products pricing is increasing, everything cost more. When things cost more, doing something affordable is counter to that, right? You can’t make something affordable, when everything starts costing more.
Things are leveling out, it’s getting better, it’s not quite there, but it’s getting better, we just closed the deal for $50 million. And that $50 million deal was a hard deal to close, because the market is changing so fast that every time we had to buy out everything as quickly as we could. Not that it was cheaper, but at least we can stabilize the costs, so that it won’t go up any higher. Because if it goes up any higher, it jeopardizes the deal. And so there’s a lot of things that happened in that space. But this is again, the new model.
So we wanted to make sure you knew that we’ve converted this property into what was a Workforce Housing deal to an Affordable Housing deal. But again, from an economic standpoint, you’ll see the income level. So the income levels here that that are listed for one, two, and three and four person are numbers that you can look at, they’re on spreadsheets all over the city, I’m sure, but for one person that $46,000, they would fit the affordability range for two persons $53,000. For three person, that $60,000. For four person — and that could be one single parent mom with three kids, right, it could be a variety of mix. So “persons” does not always mean adults, nor does it always mean children. But those are the mix that will allow for affordability to occur for these units.
And then some rent perspective. So we gave you some rents for 1) a studio, 2) a one bedroom, and 3) a two bedroom unit and square footages as well. So we’ve remodeled the building a little bit to kind of make sure there wasn’t any elaborate units because some of the units before were so large, that we had to figure out a way to actually put them in these three buckets. And so we came out to 45 units, and these are the rents that would be a part of that 45 unit mix. And so for a studio about $1,100 for a one bedroom loft $1,200, and for a two bedroom loft $1,500. And those are units that are affordable within the economic ranges for PFHA. This is giving you some site information. So when you see the site plan, you’ll know what it’s kind of made of.
Part of the site has a parking space to it that has 18 parking spaces, some landscape courtyards. We did a lot of renovation to the building, but really wanted to make sure the site was dynamic. And we know Vernon Park is a beautiful place and great landscaping. And we want to make sure this building really represents the best in class in that space as well. And then some accessible entrances for the building. Because of most of the things that were here before were all stairs to get to most of the most of the facility.
And then we have the building summary which, again, gives you information that will we want to put something together that’ll give you kind of a slick that you can keep kind of a data card. And so we’re putting that together. And Jamie I’m sure will work on getting that out in the community as well. Just something so that you don’t have to remember all this stuff. But it lays out what a one bedroom looks like, how many one bedrooms on the first floor, on the second floor, on the third floor and fourth floor totaling 45 units, different amenities spaces in there, the part of the building that’s like a lobby.
The building’s beautiful, if you’ve not been in there before it was closed, it has this huge stairway that’s kind of majestic. So it leaves a lot of space on each floor to really make sure there’s some common space and amenity space. And there’s some commercial space in here as well, both for a management office as well as for potential third party tenants. And these are some designs. So this the site plan, you probably can’t see it from back there, that’s why I think it’d be great to put together maybe a slick, something that you can, carry or have with you for reference.
But this outlines the site plan. It shows from Germantown, it goes all the way back — part of the parking lot that’s in the park is actually part of this site. So it forced us to make sure that we design and allocate resources to that space as well. And so you can see how to space actually is much larger than just the building itself. Here’s just some cut sheets to show what’s going to be done on the front. And one thing that you can see from this angle at the top of the fourth floor, we’ve added an outdoor terrace.
So that doesn’t exist now, of course, but in the future, we’ll have an outdoor space so that for people who live in a building, they can see different events in the park or watch people on the street or just get some fresh air, we wanted to make sure that there was a terrace available. So we punched out part of the fourth floor wall unit, and put a door there to give people access to an outdoor terrace. So we think that’s going to be a beautiful amenity.
Then in the rear, it shows that stairwell that goes between the building and the Center in the Park parking spaces that they’ve been using for years that we’ve tried to make that stairwell very similar to the stairwell that’s inside the building, very majestic. Landscape rich, again, a transition from a parking deck to the building of residents who will come — we actually have a deck here, you can’t see it from back there but at the corner there, there’s a lift. Again, for handicap-accessible.
We’re hoping that a lot of people who may live there may be seniors and are using Center in the Park as a place for them to come and be a part of the services that are available here. But accessibility was an important piece of the puzzle. So we wanted to make sure that accessibility was there for those residents who need access to the lift for parking, as well as Center in the Park resources. And these are some pictures that have kind of show what you can see, to some degree, this is going to be just the enhancement of the building.
So the building obviously won’t change in terms of the exterior, we’re just going to really masterfully clean it up, it’s going to look brand new again. But you can see some of the difference in the door. And the windows, really cleaning it up. Making sure that the building is an eyepiece. Something everybody can be very, very excited about, proud of, and be a testament to the Germantown Community. That’s the rear elevation again. A lot of cleanup, taking away some of those old metal terraces that are out there. Now, they’re not really fire escapes, they were just kind of places that you used to exit the building and stand outside when the fire trucks came, I imagine. But all those things are going to be removed.
And we’re going to have obviously a lot of efficiency in the building a lot of fire retardant stuff in places where we’re going to take that back portion of it that’s flattened out to the left, and add a little bit of a building attachment to it, that’ll give it a little roofline and bring some architectural elements into it, that space in the in the portion of it that looks like a tall window, we are slicing through the basketball court in the pool area, to create a second story, it’s going to be a loft. And so for those who have lofts in that space will actually have a two-story space in that portion of the building.
And this is the side view facing Vernon Park. Again, this is the old picture where you see the bricked-up windows at the bottom and everything, you can see some of the building and even the elevator tower at the top, some of that is going to be removed. And so the next picture will show a clean version of how that’s gonna look when it’s when it’s completed. So that proposal, we’ll bring that back to life. We’ll have some distance between there and the park itself. So there’d be a little bit of a drive and a gated place in that area for people to have some sense of disconnection from the park.
But we’re actually adding a door, making sure the handicap accessibility is there, bringing back the windows, bringing back all the features that I think make this building special. Although we applied, as mentioned, for historic credits, we still we own a bunch of older buildings in some cities. And so we really want to bring this back to some architectural value of a time period that we wouldn’t want to lose. So you’ll see some of those features in there even though it’s not required.
And this is the mural side again, existing portions of it now where there’s, those pockets and terraces and kind of blinks in the building. We’re going to bring a lot of that back and reestablish a better visual from that side of the building also. This is the proposal, again, a much cleaner version, showing the windows and how they’re going to be segregated from the second and third floor. And some of those things that were terraces will be removed and we’ll just have spaces in there where you can clearly access your windows and your units. And closing off some of the windows that were previously closed, now they’re going to be closed because they’re part of the stairwell.
These are some floor plans. Again, you probably can’t see those as well. But this is our way of establishing a footprint in the building to really show how units are going to be laid out from the commercial portion up front to now the units and some spaces where there’s going to be stores. This is the bottom floor, not quite a basement, but the lower level. And so you can see that purple areas where storage space will be. We’ll have some units down there, because it’s not the basement, so it has windows. And so having access to windows, we’ve actually made those very livable spaces in the purple area that Jamie is circling now that’s where storage is and then the front of the building, we’ll have some space as well for potential commercial use as well as other use as well, that’s kind of the Golden piece.
First floor, you can see as you come into the front, some of the buildings will be community space, where residents will have a lounge and have access to the management office, all those things that you would expect in the building when you first come in. The mail tower, that little purple thing up front will be where the mailbox towers are and some space in there for residents, and then it goes down the hallway where the big stairwell starts, you’ll see the next one to the right, and that one starts the grand stairwell, you’ll see it better on the next floor. So you can see it’s a pretty wide stairwell, so that portion of the stairwell, the elevator and the utility stairwell takes up a lot of space in the building. And that’s fine. It really brings a very centralization to the building from its core.
So we’re really working around that to create units that are one and two bedroom units. This portion of it shows again, where those units that are at the middle of the building, you see that spiral that circle there? Those are spiral staircases. So that gives you access to the second floor and the third floor. So it’s actually a spiral stairway that’s loft apartment, beautiful. Those are the things that will be amenities for those who like that sort of living environment because I think it really segregates the building and gives you a chance to really look out the window have a spiral stairwell in your unit, very cosmopolitan, very attractive.
Again, fourth floor, pretty much similar layout. But this the floor that I mentioned gives us access to that purple area, which is the space where the outdoor terrace would begin. So you can see the connection from the building where it terminates. And then that last portion is the portion where the outdoor terrace would belong. And there’s an indoor portion of it that kind of goes through where tenants would have access to event space or social space, meeting each other. Really making sure that people who live in the building whether young or seniors have a place to go get on their laptop, just spend some time watching a football game whatever, just to be able to have space in the building so they don’t necessarily have to leave for things that they may want to do inside their unit or the building.
You have some typical floor plans. This is a one bedroom this is not the loft portion, this is just a typical floor plan so you can see coming in kitchen. All the units will have in-unit washer and dryers. Obviously air conditioning, hot water, dishwasher, energy efficient appliances throughout, but the layout would be pretty much the same. Some units are smaller, some are bigger, but this is the typical one bedroom. And this is a typical two bedroom: spacious area has very efficient floor plan layout for bathroom, kitchen area, living room and two bedrooms.
And here’s the loft portion, that two-story portion of it. So the first floor of it will be where they would live or the bedroom and the second floor would be the living area where they would have entertainment. So you can enter into the unit from either the top or the bottom floor. More than likely, though, people come in through the second floor with the living room spaces but this gives you access again to the spiral stairs, it has a breakfast bar. Very much a unit that’s super efficient. But the units are built for people to live in, but really to actually circulate through the space and hopefully spend time outside the building, whether it be in a park, whether it be back and forth to work, whether it be some of the common areas in the building.
So it has a lot of space for people to get small or to get big, whichever way they want to live that day. And this gives you a deeper picture of the community space. The space already has some beautiful fireplaces. So we’re going to restore those fireplaces, especially in the lobby area. It has some pocket doors that in our original design for historic preservation we wanted to preserve and retain a lot of the trim work. So a lot of those things are going to remain as part of the historic preservation of the building.
Just in general, it’ll have a secured entrance. So the entrance will be not open to the public, it’ll be very much a secured entrance. So residents will have access to it, with their special key cards, and then have access to that space 24 hours a day. And that’s the top of the building again, the outdoor area where you can sit down, lay out on a cot, relax, you can go inside. There’s going to be a fitness facility on that floor where there’s treadmills and some weights, for people that just want to get a workout in before they go to work or come home from work or whatever the case may be.
And again, some area where they can have an upstairs lounge as well for tenants to just commune and congregate. A small area, a meeting space if they want to meet. And so just really making sure the building is comprised of all those lifestyle experiences that they want to have in the building. And on this floor because of the glass wall, there’s a lot of natural light. So we want to see how that would play out as well. Besides being outside, even doing inclement weather, there’s just so much light that will come in on that fourth floor to be a great place to be.
So it’s seven o’clock! I wanted to make sure that I was done by then. I think the main thing for me was just making sure you see it, generally. So those of you who’ve been here for a while you’ve seen it before, we just recast it into an affordable housing space. And that affordable housing space, we think, is going to be dynamic, because affordable housing is not a finite term, right? There’s ranges within affordable housing. And we think that’s going to really open the door up for those folks who are climbing in income or just getting their first job or even those empty nesters, which was again part of our target.
And here we are. Five to six years later, and incomes have increased according to the study by $40,000. And so there’s a big transformation that’s occurred in that space, and a lot of people who weren’t affordable then would be affordable now. So we’re looking forward to this design. And the main thing was really showcasing how the project will be redesigned in that regard in terms of the unit mix.
There’s two things that are going to be important for us to make sure this deal gets done and close. One is getting access to tax credit. So we’re applying for tax credits this round with the PFHA. We’ve already gone through the process of sending in our pre application. So that part of it’s done, due by tomorrow. And next part of it, they moved it to January 11th for the application. So the application for tax credits will be vital. We also have an application that will be going into the city for NPI funds. So those two pieces of the puzzle are really the last two pieces that really makes this project become completed and closed. So that’s pretty much the end of my presentation. So we’ll open the door for questions and answers.
Yvonne Haskins (Friends for the Restoration of Gtown YWCA) 1:00:18
Thank you for your presentation. I’m concerned about time. And I’d like to know if you could give us some kind of projection on how long that you believe it’ll take for you to obtain your financing your commitment for financing. And how long it will take you to complete the project. Do you have any estimate of time?
Keith Key with KBK 1:00:53
So timewise, the application for NPI funds, they’re due next month, November 15. And so that’s the city’s process for applying for those resources. And then the tax credit application is due now on January 11th. And that’s the timeframe for their application. The city will probably be faster, but they’re contingent upon getting tax credits. So you get tax credits, you get their funds. So they will make their preliminary awards, but you don’t get access to them unless you get credit. So this tax credit application is really to trigger. The PFHA timeframe of when they will come out with the award, it could range depending upon how much volume they get. I don’t know what their volume base is, and they’re not sure either. But more than likely, we’re expecting that they will do that in three or four months from the application period. So by May or April, at the latest, they’ll notify everybody of the award. And by that time, we should still be able to actually close by the fall of the year. And so if that happens, we’ll close by the fall start construction fall of 2024. And we’ll be done about a year later in 2025.
Audience Member 1:02:23
Okay, I’m concerned about parking, Maple village, and the Center in the Park, use the current parking space that you seem to be reserved for your new project. We have buses that come in, I don’t know how many times a day to drop off seniors. How is that going to work? Are we losing our parking?
Keith Key with KBK 1:02:49
And so we had this conversation, the director and I, years ago when I first met her and seeing the facility and seeing the great work they do here. My goal would be to find some way to work together as a kind of a whole parking solution between Maple Village, Center in the Park and the facility. Obviously, there’s a small parking deck back there, there’s some surface level parking, and then obviously everybody that point resorts to street parking. But in the end during the day, these are affordable units where people are going to be preferenced to work. So it will be a working population there.
So the working population should leave the building available for access to parking, especially during the weekday. The weekends would be the most complicated if there’s weekend activities that will make it very, very complicated. But again, I’m hoping that there’s a collaboration and partnership so that the residents who live there are part of the solution as well and say, “Well, hey, I’ll park further so our seniors can park closer.” As long as we’re working together as a collective, that parking area becomes a parking solution for all of us in really respect and how we do that.
So the three of us between Maple Village, Center in the Park, and obviously the Germantown Y, I think that becomes kind of a consortium of people that’s going to have to talk on a continuous basis. If we’re going to do it right, it ain’t going to happen by itself not going to happen, because we just hope it happens. There’s going to have to be some real management of systems and management of resources and people to make that happen. And we’ve done this before in other places and it really comes down to relationships and our ability to communicate to our population, both the seniors both Maple Village and also the residents who live in the Germantown Y to know that this is our plan.
This is how we’re going to do it and if we have to put together some house rules to help accomplish that. Those are things that we’ve done before as well. But I think that parking solution probably everybody’s under-parked already. But what’s there today? So even not counting the Germantown Y, I’m sure there’s times when that that parking issue becomes an issue even today.
Jerimiah Laster, Board President Center in the Park 1:05:00
Hello. Can I call you, Keith? Good. Jeremiah Laster, board president here at Center in the Park. And I’m glad you talked about building relationships. You talked about transforming, you talked about a sense of place. And I like to throw in integration. You alluded to it. And just as you’re looking to collaborate with Center in the Park about the parking issue, which we’re all really concerned about, because integral to the operations here is making sure that those clients can get in, who are disabled. And although we have an upper parking lot, we’ve been utilizing this space for about 20 years. So I really look forward to working with you and collaborate with your team along with our executive director so we can work out some plan and make this work for everybody. So I’m glad you talked about relationships, because we’re looking really looking forward to making this work for everybody.
Keith Key with KBK 1:05:57
I appreciate your comments. And that, that that is our intent. Actually, when I first met the director, and he gave me a tour of the space, I was just blown away. You know, besides the fact that a few seniors beat me at pool — I realized they’re pool sharks. And so I said, “Okay, we got to make sure I up my game before I come back.”
But I think the important part is one thing about me, if you Google stuff about me, you’ll find out that I’m in the philanthropy space, as well. And the two things that I give resources to is typically, young people and seniors. So seniors are my heart. You heard me talk about, I wouldn’t let somebody live somewhere my mom couldn’t live? Well my mom is 86 years old. And so for me, I believe that she would be at a space like this, and I would want to make sure the seniors who are here have access to all the resources that we can bring to the table. And I think we bring something to the table.
Most of you don’t know me, but feel free to call around. I’m sure some of you have already made calls to places like Pittsburgh and New Orleans, and wherever. Go ahead. You’ll find that we’ve been a good partner to every neighborhood we’re in.
Audience Member 1:07:00
One of the bottom lines is who can afford to live in this building? Who will be able to get a unit with the competition for affordable housing here? The chart you had had 22 units at 60% of Area Median Income, this can be gobbledygook to a lot of people. But the Area Median Income in Germantown is 35k. That ranges from a large household to a small household. Can you break down the amount of income someone can have? Like up to 60%? For 22 of those units?
Keith Key with KBK 1:07:41
Yeah, we can put that back up to me, it actually has a grid there. We got this from PFHA. So this is the grid that shows what’s allowable for affordability
Audience Member 1:07:50
Just as a reference point, this is to frame the question. I’m framing the question. (they take the mic away from him)
Keith Key with KBK 1:08:06
Yes, so in what you see here in this grid, and I don’t know if everybody can see it. So we have the one person, and three person. Those are income limits, that’s the max that you can make. You can make below it. If you make below it, that’s okay, as long as you have the income stream and be able to pay your expenses to accommodate that particular unit that you’re interested in. That works for us.
And we do have a space there that we’re going to be pursuing project-based vouchers, mainly for those five units because those are ADA units. And those ADA units are typically for seniors or people who are handicap, who typically may live on some form of subsidy that keeps them at a lower income level, we want to make sure that they can have access to all the same amenities versus lowering the amenity pool, we actually are focused on leveling that economic base out by way of project-based vouchers. And we think five is a very modest number to secure those from the housing authority.
Obviously, if we can get more that’s even better, it helps stabilize the building in another sort of stronger fashion. But the five is something that we think is paramount, because those are going to be our lowest income folks who want to have access to all the same benefits and resources as people who make a little bit more. So project-based vouchers are something we’re looking to pursue as well for those five ADA units. But again, if there’s a pool that’s larger, we would definitely want more. But those are the income ranges that are again at the height. So there can be lower income they just can’t be higher and still be considered affordable.
Audience Member 1:09:54
Yes, I want to know what number range is affordable housing in this area. I didn’t see it because I’m visually impaired. And does a Section 8 voucher, can you buy a house that’s affordable? Because some of them are like two bedrooms, you get $1,500. So do you know that?
Keith Key with KBK 1:10:20
I’m not sure of that in this market area, but vouchers are sometimes convertible to provide access to homeownership? I know in some cities, they do that pretty routinely. I don’t know exactly what PHA does here in Philadelphia. But that’s a question I probably wouldn’t be able to answer for you fully. But I think you can. I know, in some markets, you can. I think it’s market-specific. But there’s legislation that allows that to happen, but the Housing Authority has to make that declaration that that could be used as something that can convert from a Section Eight voucher revenue stream to part of a mortgage restructuring.
Audience Member (inaudible) 1:11:05
Keith Key with KBK 1:12:04
That’s a good depiction. You’re right. They that is an error I think. The site planners designed it just as a landscape, but it doesn’t have an entrance. So that bridge we all walked across, would need to have an opening there. And obviously some other places of openings. But generally, it was meant to just be a landscape plan that would actually be produced on the site itself. I don’t know if Jamie can find it again, but it was early-on in the beginning for the site plan.
But you’re absolutely right, that entrance would would be here. That entrance would be here, that actually connects to the bridge, where we all walked in today. So yes, that that’s a missing piece of the puzzle. And those handicap spaces, we purposely made sure that they were designed to be something that a bus could use, or a van could use versus a standard single parking handicap because we know that the buses and vans are a big part of Center in the Park’s activity level and use of as well. So this is not perfect in any means in terms of some of those pieces that you picked up. But that that’s a good point. So that would be cut out that would be a cut-out there through the landscaping that doesn’t exist now.
Audience Member 1:13:25
My question is also about the parking lot. I think the city has a requirement that you have to have so many spaces for the number of units, you have 45 units, there are not 45 spaces anywhere near that in that parking lot. Do you have any plans for offsite parking elsewhere?
Keith Key with KBK 1:13:43
That’s a good question. So a lot of the design specifications for these particular projects, if they’re not there, you really are now subject to being parking on the street, where there’s street parking today. And then, as we talked about building, hopefully a collaboration where that parking space is not “anyone’s” parking is kind of a parking solution for all of us. And so some of that is going to be part of the overall solution. But you’re right, there’s not a one for one parking space at all. And so that wouldn’t be part of the design and something that we could achieve. And no one could achieve under any circumstance without building a parking deck. And we’re not doing a parking deck.
Audience Member 1:14:41
Will you be using union contractors or union workers? One thing about our neighborhood, we see a lot of work going up in our neighborhoods, but we don’t see people like us working on a project. It’s like they bring people from anywhere but our neighborhoods to work on stuff for our neighborhoods. Would you like…? <applause>
Keith Key with KBK 1:15:04
That’s a great question and you’re hitting my target area. That’s a big thing for me. I’m a big believer that people from the neighborhood should have first opportunities not just to get contracts, but the work too. And we make every effort to do that. Like I said, we won an award in every city that we’re in, doing that very thing. Because we know…
In New Orleans, here’s a little anecdotal story. When it was first being built, there was these kids across the fence watching it. And I’m sitting there thinking, “Wow, here we are building in a neighborhood. They’re sitting there at the fence where they live watching construction.” So I walked up to them. I said, “Hey, man, you guys want to work?” They said “Yeah.” I said, “Come on, come with me.” So I had the security let him in. And we walked them over to a contractor and got him a job that day. The funny part is I did a congressional hearing with Maxine Waters, the housing chair, and I brought one of the kids with me. He said, “Mr. Key didn’t know this, but we were over there talking about how we were going to rob him. <audience laughs> And he came over and offered us a job. And none of us robbed him.”
And we had no security at night, so they were the ones protecting my property as well, because it was their handiwork. But had I not offered them a job, they would have been part of, you know, a cycle, right? A cycle of people robbing us and getting arrested. And now they become part of the system. And he talked about just how much he had learned and how much he had made from when he first started as a laborer. Now he’s operating light equipment. And he actually got a job after our project was done helping build the hospital in New Orleans.
But it really was transformational to get people who lived there to work there. And I’m a big, big believer, if we’re doing these projects, because they are affordable. If we’re profiting from their poverty, we should be part of poverty’s eradication. If we’re not eradicating poverty, shame on us. We shouldn’t be in the business if we’re profiting from poverty and not part of its eradication.
Audience Member 1:17:03
Thank you for your excellent presentation today. The building looks very impressive. Let’s say things work out and the building is built. Let’s fast forward two years, five years, 10 years, 20 years. How about the maintenance of the property? How is that going to be handled? And what kind of recourse would there be if things start to fall apart a little bit?
Keith Key with KBK 1:17:21
Yeah, so that’s a good question. And that’s an important piece of the puzzle, operations. Operations is a big part. Everybody’s focused on getting the building built but operating is another story. And we really work hard at that as well. So there’s obviously a lot of checks and balances. Having an investor in the deal for tax credits, they are providing Asset Management Oversight, they will have the right to remove us as operators if in fact, we are, poor operators. In some cities, we have third party operators, in other cities, we do it ourselves.
This particular one, we’re actually bringing in one of our partners who do some of the property management for us in Pittsburgh and some other market areas that we’re looking at. So we’ll have oversight as well over them. So we’ll be oversight in them as much as they’re being oversight by PFHA will have an oversight crew, the tax benefit investor will have an oversight crew, the city will have an oversight crew, because we’re buying it from them and they stay involved in the deal as well.
So everybody will have a chance to look at and see the operations of the building and make sure nothing goes wrong before it gets very, very bad.
Audience Member 1:18:39
The question that I have basically goes back to something that you said a little bit earlier, about different places and different pieces of the puzzle that needs to be put together in pieces. My question is, this isn’t the first time you’ve done this landscape. This isn’t the first time that you’ve been in this position. And so I’m wondering why those things weren’t kind of addressed a little bit before now. If you’re looking to build something for the community, you knew ahead of time what the community needed. And so I’m wondering why that wasn’t incorporated in bringing something to the community.
Because a lot of what you’re saying is, oh, well, people are going to have to find street parking. Around here that is very difficult. Not even looking at, okay, well, people are working class, so they’re going to be leaving so the parking lot will be open. That’s not always the case, either. So I’m just wondering why these things weren’t thought about ahead of time if you knew what the community needed prior to coming to the community. <applause>
Keith Key with KBK 1:19:41
Fair question. And first of all, like you said, I do this all over the country. Every project is not the solution for every problem. So some of these problems I couldn’t fix even if I wanted to, because I don’t have the ability or resources to solve a parking dilemma that’s already here. It’s already here. It’s happening now. What I can try to do is add value.
The one thing that I really wanted to do was not take away from, and how do I add to. And so part of my solution was really talking about how these things would actually work together, but I’m idealistic to believe that we can work together. I don’t see any reason why we can’t. And there are ways that I think can work. But I don’t control the means to do all those things myself. It really comes down to everybody working together. And that’s what community does.
I think no community that I’ve ever lived in a work in is perfect. It really comes down to the collaboration and partnership that people established to really make these things work. Those little cutouts and things of that nature, those things could have been, should have been caught. They weren’t. But it’s an obvious one. For me, I promise you that that cut out will be there, I can promise you that. I’m sure I’m on tape somewhere.
And so those things are hindsight, things that could have been solved. And I’m sure there’s some other things that we can solve along the way, whether it be the color of the brick, and in some of the different lintels or whatever in the building. But again, those are things that we’ve really wanted to focus on. After all these things happen. There’s a stage of development that happens that these are kind of rough drawings, what you’re seeing is the rough. These are not fine designs in terms of what’s going to be done in full tilt. Some of those landscaping things may very well change, you’ll see some plants there that look like they’re orange or red, they may not be orange, or red, they may be purple. And so those things can happen along the way as well.
So this is really high level stuff, high level design, high level presentation, some of the details very well may change. One thing you don’t see in there, that’s a big thing for me is lighting. Lighting is an important piece of every design and feature in my sort of development. You’ve seen some of the buildings we’ve done, I’ve showed you night pictures. Lighting is a big thing, but you don’t see lighting in the design at all. But there will be lighting that will be designed as part of the aesthetics of the building as well.
Audience Member 1:22:00
My question is, once this project comes out the ground, will this be a union job, or a non union job? Because I see a lot of things going on throughout the Germantown section of Philadelphia, a lot of buildings and things are going up, which is a lot of non union jobs. So would this be a union or non union job?
Keith Key with KBK 1:23:00
We’ve done both. We’ve worked with union contractors and non-union contractors. Those finite items we haven’t really established it. I can tell you in some cities where, I’ll use Pittsburgh as an example, with big contractors involved. I have a contracting firm in Pittsburgh as well. But we’ve not used unions as a whole because there’s not enough minorities in their halls. And so if we’re committed to hire minorities, and they don’t have minorities in their hall, or they’re not minority contractors that are designees, then I’m not full-scale giving my project up to unions, because once I go with the unions, I’m basically telling everybody in the neighborhood, I’m not hiring you.
But I’ve been in some markets where there’s a lot of minority companies in the union, you go to places like Atlanta, that’s a union-heavy city where a lot of black people are signatories in the union, a lot of black people in the halls, so I’m not sure in terms of that process right now. My suspicion is, to get granular we’d want to have some small companies involved, which means they’re probably not going to meet the union criteria. And we’ve had unions offer to invest in us and our projects but once they invest, it has to be 100% union so we’ve not taking any money from the union for that reason. Not because we don’t like them or have an issue with them.
For me, it’s about ‘Are you going to represent the marketplace in terms of minority participation and and hiring?” If you don’t have them in the halls, then the likelihood is I won’t have them on my project.
Audience Member 1:24:45
I live in Maple Village and I hear you saying that there will be more structure to the parking issue around the area. I’ve been here for about eight years. And it seems like it’s gonna be making more changes for me. And I don’t see why. Because we do have a parking lot. Some of us have to park on the street. WE get home late at night, we got to walk to our building. And all the changes that’s coming is kind of making me feel a little uncomfortable. Will there be changes to my building? After eight years, will I lose my parking space?
I know we all got to collaborate together. But you got to remember, we’re seniors, and we’re in our 80s and 90s. Why do we need to park on the street to walk up to our building? Even in the back now. When I first moved here, I said you know what I don’t see a sign or nothing. So I’m just gonna park out here. My car got towed the next day. And I’m like, “$400 to get my car back?!” But now that I have a parking space in Maple Village, will I have to go through a lot of changes again?
Keith Key with KBK 1:26:08
That’s a good question. And I know parking is a big issue. I don’t want to underscore the challenge of that, because it’s not a small feat at all. Like you said, it’s a problem. Now I’ve seen it myself. So I know it’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get more complicated. Part of the area where Maple Village parks today, that’s really not part of the site as much. I’m sure people park there because it’s there. And it’s open. And so that’s something that again, we’ll have to figure out how that works. And maybe there’s some other parking solution that can happen within the area that will not force all of us to have to use that area as our singular parking solution.
And so as neighborhoods talk, and you guys are the leaders of the neighborhood, maybe that’s an important piece of the puzzle that we all join forces about is: How do we collaborate to look at where parking could happen outside of that one area? Because all three of us coexisting will make a parking challenge that exacerbates what’s there now, because it’s a parking challenge today with just two senior activities going on. Three other buildings now versus two is definitely gonna make it much more complicated.
Audience Member 1:27:26
Keith, I’m Suzanne, nice to meet you. I think it’s great. There’s a lot of wonderful things here that I’m very happy about. One of the problems over these past six years has been a lack of communication. And whether it was your responsibility or someone else’s, I don’t know. But would you be willing to set up a structure of communication.
For instance, as you apply for the grant in December, and then as you apply for the grant in January, and then as you get results — would you would you be willing to communicate on a regular basis with the stakeholders: the Center in the Park and West Central Germantown Neighbors Association. If you were willing to do that, it would create a much better sense of community and relationships. And I hope you would consider that.
And, for instance, when the time comes to negotiate and for figuring out how the parking and how the access for those buses and vans to come in with the seniors, when we sit down at that table. We should be able to sit down as a group and come up with a solution. And I think we can, I really do. And, honestly, if we had known that you were being discriminated against way back when, I can promise you that the community would have supported you and we would have come to your aid and said “That’s wrong”, and we wouldn’t have let that happen. And I want you to give us an opportunity to be a stakeholder. We welcome you to the neighborhood.
Keith Key with KBK 1:29:43
Thank you very much. So your immediate question? Yes. We’ll make sure we open up a line of communication. We’ll figure out who becomes the source of that. And the more sources, the better in my opinion, just so everybody doesn’t have to hear it third or fourth hand. But yeah, we definitely want to keep you in the loop. And we want to be neighbors, and we know part of being a neighbor is getting this thing moving. And we understood that. I mean, that was the threshold from my first meeting, it was: “Welcome, if you get started.” And I get that, it’s okay.
But I really want that relationship to occur. I think that’s important. We don’t want anybody to walk away with kind of a burden on their shoulders, it felt like we got something to overcome. If we’re starting from zero, we have nothing to overcome, forget the past, nobody’s angry at me, hopefully, and I’m not angry at anybody. If we start from zero, we got somewhere to go.
And I think, to your point, had some of these things been more transparent, there probably would have been people who would have came to my aid or the aid of that system that that was, was struggling. But hopefully now we’re in a place where we can work together and some of your issues like parking and whatever else, I can be an advocate for as well. Because being on the development side, and not necessarily being a resident gives me another position in terms of a stakeholder. And I can help pull my relationships and resources together as well.
So I think it’s important that we all bring our A game to the table and do what’s best for all of us, because none of this stuff, benefits me that doesn’t benefit you. Or if it benefits you, it hurts me, we shouldn’t be in that space, we should be in a space that all these things really amount to all of us doing better. If that’s not the case, then it’s not really a good collaboration.
Audience Member 1:31:50
Good evening, and thank you for hanging out in Germantown with us tonight. We appreciate you. Every time we are doing development in Germantown, parking is always high on the agenda. But what I haven’t heard yet, amongst these three buildings, what is the natural footprint of parking out there in relations to Center in the Park, what belongs to them?
Keith Key with KBK 1:32:20
I don’t know who owns the other portion like the parking deck and the Maple Village Park and I’m assuming is on the way in through the driveway there. But the green space that’s here is naturally part of our space. So all that space there would be owned by this development. So the Germantown Y would be responsible for that space. So whether it’s collaboration space or not, we have certain fiduciary responsibility to that space to not just develop it, but maintain it and insure it and all that good stuff. So that that is our space that’s truly responsible for the building.
Audience Member 1:33:16
This may be a minor question, but one of the things that Center in the Park is a huge dumpster that it gets rid of waste. Will parking space make that disappear? And in terms of stakeholders, it would be a good discussion to have, how does Center in the Park and where would they begin to dispose of this waste that on a daily basis consumes a lot?
Keith Key with KBK 1:33:39
I think all of those things could be collaborative. Right now, in our design, we have a dumpster there only for easy access to a dump truck that would come and pick up trash. But again, collaborating on how that’s managed and the frequency of it and how it’s managed and who pays for it, all that stuff. Those are things that I think there’s a lot of collaboration beyond parking. That deals with, like you said, trash removal could deal with other circulation.
There’s some space that maybe Center in the Park and our building could collaborate on along with Maple Village. I think there’s a lot of places where collaboration can occur. I think parking is the obvious, but I think you bring up a great point, trash and trash removal is a real-life issue. That would all be good if we actually talked about it, to make it something that systematic because obviously there’s trash there. You guys have food and feeding programs and so forth every day, there’s going to be 45 residents there that’s going to need access for trash disposal.
We have a trash compactor in the building that will actually come out. And there’s a maintenance room down here. And so there will be a space where all that will be collected as well. So there’s some navigation that we’d have to work on together to figure out how best to maintain the amount of trash and trash removal that makes sure everybody doesn’t have any open issues.
Audience Member 1:35:05
A number of us have worked for many years to see that this project happened. We need affordable housing in Germantown. This question basically is for the council woman. The question, and this was a submitted question for the council woman. It seems to me that at a certain point, it becomes time to move on to other developers, if a developer is struggling to get the funds to start a project.
Since we are seven years into this with KBK. Don’t to think that they should be given a deadline to get the funds they need to begin the redevelopment or be asked to withdraw, so a new RFP can be sent out? Will you agree that we need to do this for the good of Germantown? Is there a date that you would support? <applause>
Cindy Bass 1:36:32
I would say that, as I mentioned at the beginning of the presentation, we spent almost the first three years on a wild goose chase, essentially. Looking for tax credits that were unobtainable, and we were told were mandatory for this project to proceed through the property owner, which is the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia. And so we spent three years chasing something that was not obtainable. And then we hit a pandemic.
So all of that time — we’re seven years in now. But I don’t believe that KBK has really had the opportunity to really proceed on this project, in a way that other developers have been able to proceed on their projects here in the city of Philadelphia. So that’s the first thing, but I’ll say, to answer your question, at some point, absolutely. If KBK is unable to move forward on this project — and keep in mind I’ve have had this conversation — if they are unable to proceed on this project, at some point, of course, we will move on. And, you know, there’ll be another RFP, but I believe, based on his presentation, based on our conversations that we’re where we need to be.
The project is proceeding based on the funds that are coming in from the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative, also from PHFA. And I know that Keith went through that part of the presentation early on: we’re here. We’re at the point where we can see this project moving forward. Now, this project is getting ready start — the trains getting ready to leave the station. So this is not the moment to switch gears at this moment. This is the moment where we’re ready to go. And let’s go. We’re all ready for this project to go. I mean, is there anybody here who doesn’t want it to go? We’re all ready, we are ready for this to happen. <applause>
Audience Member 1:36:41
First, I’d like to compliment you on your presentation. Very good. I’m interested in the projections that you have in your presentation. Will they be available for the public? And if so, where can we get them?
Keith Key with KBK 1:39:03
Yeah, I definitely want to create some marketing slick that we can provide as a brochure or something just so people have all this information, because there’s a lot to remember. And so at least as you’re going out as advocates for the project, or information sources for the larger community, at least you’ll have all the information you’ll need to be able to communicate it accurately. So you’re not being held accountable to remember everything. So yes. So we plan on actually making information available to the community. So we’ll make sure those things get printed from elements of this presentation. So you’ll you’ll have something that’s select that can be available to the community.
And we can definitely put it online. We may even host a separate site just for the Germantown Y just to do that. But for those people who want a hard copy, we’ll try to do that too. But yeah, we’ll definitely build a little link to that. A site that we can make specially for Germantown.
Audience Member 1:40:08
Hi, thank you for your presentation. I have a project question every time you talk about tax credits, I’m assuming you’re talking about low income housing tax credits. Is this project eligible for historic preservation investment tax credits? And if so, are you going to go after those?
Keith Key with KBK 1:40:28
So I’m glad you made that designation or difference. Yes, these are low income housing tax credits through PFHA. The historic tax credits, we did pursue that vigorously, as the Councilwoman mentioned, and they were pretty adamant that this would not necessarily be a fit for them. We think there were other issues, but nevertheless, it wouldn’t fit that model for them, and still meet the plans for this building. So we will not be getting historic tax credits.
Audience Member 1:41:20
Just a question along with the historical preservation. You said you own some historically preserved buildings. You know, this is a historical building. But none of your pictures — you didn’t share any of the developments you’ve done with Historic buildings. So everything that we saw was kind of irrelevant to the building that you’re talking about. Do you have those? Can you share those?
Keith Key with KBK 1:41:41
Sure, well, we don’t have those in our presentation. But those buildings were actually not converted to housing, they were converted to office. We do have one that’s kind of a mixed use, that’s in construction. Now we own some buildings in downtown Pittsburgh Historic District. And so Landmarks Foundation is one of our partners and funders for it. So we actually work with Landmarks specifically, that helps maintain that.
So you’re right, that was not part of our presentation. But we do have a small segment of our portfolio that owns historic buildings as well from actually 1896 was their age. So they’re actually older than the Germantown Y. Now, as I said, we didn’t we didn’t have in our presentation, I actually have about about twice as many projects that could have put in the presentation. So I didn’t put everything in there. I just put some snippets of there that I can reflect upon. But no, we didn’t have any we should have put maybe some historic information.
But this is not historic credits, the ones that we actually have historic funding for it. So we’re not bound by historic credits. That’s the good and bad of it, that there’s really no historic responsibility I have all the things that we’re doing in preservation is on our own accord. So we’re not bound by historic credit. So we didn’t have historic credit options for you to see as much. Well, thank you all for having me. And hopefully, if I can answer your questions, I’ll be around.
I wanted to thank everyone for coming out. My name is Terressa Thompson, I’m councilwoman Miss Cindy Bass’s Deputy Chief of Staff. If there’s questions you think of after today, you can always contact me in the City Hall office: 215-686-3424 (District office: 215-685-9182)
What do you think? Please leave your comments below! Suggested action steps:
- Follow the Friends for the Restoration of Germantown YWCA on Facebook to stay updated on all the latest plans and meetings.
- And mark your calendar for Thursday, November 16th when the next chapter of the Germantown High School saga will be revealed to the community. Stay tuned….
🙏🧠💖 Thank you for being an informed neighbor! 💖🧠🙏