-Story and images by Mark Casasanto
In partnership with the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia, Catholic Housing and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS) broke ground yesterday on an anticipated 18.3 million dollar project. The long awaited development will bring 46 one-bedroom apartments for qualified seniors to the intersection of Broad and Ellsworth Streets. Additionally, the ground floor of the complex will primarily be dedicated to a multi-purpose based center, administered by the Shrine’s staff and Augustinian Friars of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova. The vision of the center, in keeping with the legacy of St. Rita, is to promote a place of healing, reconciliation and community building through friendship, education and professional services.
The new apartments, located on the second through fifth floors, will be available to income eligible seniors that are 62 years and older and will be accessible for all people with physical disabilities. Social and laundry services, as well as a community room and food cupboard will be incorporated into the residential scheme to assist residents as they age in place. There will also be a plaza with green space for open air enjoyment as part of the neighborhood transformation and what is hoped to be the beginning of a new gateway to Center City.
In his remarks, Archbishop Perez commented that when he was serving in Philadelphia ministerially, he would visit the shrine often only to wonder what “was going on over there”, referring to the proposed construction site. “This morning, as we pulled up, they were actually working!” he said enthusiastically.
Amongst the dignitaries joining the Archbishop for the scaled down blessing and ceremonial groundbreaking in accordance to current health guidelines were: Congressman Dwight Evans, Councilmen Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla, Joe DeFelice from The Department of Housing and Urban Development, CHCS officials as well as several development partners, neighborhood supporters and members of the O.S.A religious community.