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Paseo Verde, model green development, opens doors in Philadelphia

December 3, 2013

LISC joined developers Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and Jonathan Rose Companies to cut the ribbon on the $48 Million model green development.

Today, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and Jonathan Rose Companies cut the ribbon on “Paseo Verde,” the first LEED Neighborhood Development Platinum project in the U.S.

Paseo Verde is much more than a groundbreaking green development, however. It is also transit-oriented, mixed-income, and mixed-use. The finished development will include a federally-qualified health center (FQHC) and a LISC financial opportunity center, in addition to retail shops and restaurants. In this way, Paseo Verde is a model of comprehensive community development. It promises to catalyze revitalization in Eastern North and create a bridge to new opportunities for existing residents.

“Our vision is for a community of opportunity,” said APM President and LISC board member Nilda Ruiz. Transit-oriented developments (TODs) like Paseo Verde are built close to public transportation to connect people to jobs, affordable homes and health care, and schools, she said. They help create pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use communities that encourage convenience and walkability.

LISC celebrated the ribbon cutting of the $48 Million development with Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Darrell Clarke, and a long list of nonprofit, public and private sector partners. Located on a 1.9-acre former parking lot adjacent to the Temple University SEPTA Station, the development includes 120 units of housing and 30,000 sq. ft. of office and retail space and will generate 25 percent less energy than today’s code requires. The 206,000 sq.ft. project reserves 53 units as affordable for low- and moderate-income families who are expected to benefit from greater public transit access.

The green features of Paseo Verde include landscaped terraces, permeable pavement, and a series of green and blue roofs. The building design includes an energy efficient envelope and mechanical systems, solar panels, and the use of local, recyclable, and renewable materials. The development was recognized as a LEED ND Platinum project for establishing a model of coordinated green development projects in the Paseo Verde area.

“They thought it was pie in the sky,” says Rose Gray of Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), the Community Development Corporation who took the lead on organizing the community input, among many other roles, for the project near Temple University. “We were at the original design charrette at Greenbuild years ago, and all of these experts on LEED ND weren’t sure we could do it.”

LISC invested its first New Markets Tax Credits allocation in Philadelphia of $10 million into the project. LISC also provided the development team with a $1 million pre-development loan, a $350,000 pre-development grant, and a $13,500 grant for the LEED ND Platinum certification process. These early investments by LISC made Paseo Verde and its LEED ND Platinum designation possible.

“LISC invested over $11 million into this project, which I see as the crown jewel of 25 years of partnership with APM in Eastern North Philadelphia,” said LISC President Michael Rubinger. In that 25 years, LISC invested over $50 million in this neighborhood, he said, which has led to the development of over 400 homes, a supermarket, and a credit union. “From my perspective, Paseo Verde is one of the most impressive transit-oriented developments in the U.S. and a model for development everywhere.”

Transit-oriented developments like Paseo Verde connect downtown business districts and concentrated residential areas to each other, and to the rest of the city. They spur economic growth, maximize housing affordability, increase access to youth and job services, and improve green, open space for residents.

Across the country, LISC is supporting affordable and sustainable living in our urban cores and creating accessible environments around transit stations. LISC and its partner, National Equity Fund, Inc., have invested $190 million in TOD projects. Those investments have leveraged $890 million in total development activity and created 2,250 affordable homes and apartments and more than a half-million square feet of commercial space. Areas that were once crumbling are now pulsing with energy and liveliness.

“You can’t lose sight of how ambitious this project is,” says Alex Dews, Programs & Policy Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “It’s helping to change the character of the neighborhood in a way that respects what’s here already and provides additional amenities that it deserves, all while achieving the very highest levels of environmental sustainability and performance.”

Philadelphia is leading the way on affordable green housing and community-centered design, and the City of Philadelphia itself will adopt green affordable housing standards for all city projects beginning in 2014. LISC is excited to help Philadelphia lead the way to a greener future.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a program of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that provides third-party verification of green buildings and a green building tool that addresses the entire building lifecycle recognizing best-in-class building strategies. According to USGBC, LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEEDND) integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design.

As a result of Paseo Verde the ongoing investment and innovation of APM and LISC, the neighborhood is on the rise. “I remember Eastern North back when I lived in Philadelphia,” Rubinger said, “Today it is a completely different place, and APM is largely responsible for that.”

> To learn more about Philadelphia LISC, see http://philadelphialisc.org/aboutus

> To learn more about APM, see http://www.apmphila.org/

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