|Posted by Elwin Green on September 27, 2017 at 12:45 AM|
A meeting of the City's Planning Commision this afternoon could be a critical turning point for a mixed-income housing development being planned for Homewood.
The proposed 58-unit development, dubbed Kelly-Hamilton, has been winding its way through the pre-construction process for more than a year. But sustained opposition to the development may cause the developer, Keith B. Key Enterprises (usually referred to as "KBK") to miss deadlines to apply for Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority tax credits that would be critical to the project's financing.
The opposition has mostly come from the Homewood Concerned Citizens Council, a group of Homewood residents headed by Cherylie Fuller. Fuller lives on Hamilton Avenue, close to where the new homes would be built.
Fuller and HCCC made the news when they protested at the May 4 groundbreaking for the project. The Post-Gazette's story about the event includes this:
“Talk to us,” said Cherylie Fuller. “Sit down with us. We don’t want what they’re ramming down our throat.”
The most recent expression of opposition came at the Planning Commission's Sept. 12 meeting (the Commission meets every two weeks), where it is reported that Fuller and Judith Ginyard spoke against the project.
What's especially interesting is that the Commission has a 1 pm briefing, which is off the record, and a 2 pm meeting during which the public may comment. According to my source, Fuller and Ginyard spoke during the briefing.
(EDIT, 9-27-17: Please note my friend Ann Belser's comment befow, and my response."
Fuller's plea - or demand - to "sit down with us" is, on the face of it, perplexing.
According to Jerome Jackson, executive director of Operation Better Block, KBK has attended at least four meetings of OBB's community clusters, as well as OBB monthly community meetings, and at least three HCCC meetings.
I don't know whether or not he's counting the November public meeting hosted by HCCC, at which Mr. Keys gave a detailed presentation on the project.
This raises the obvious question, "What does a developer have to do to gain community support?"
It also suggests a less obvious question, "Whose support does a developer need in order for them, or anyone, to say that they have community support?"
The project is supported by the Homewood Community Development Collaborative, an affiliation of Homewood-based non-profits that includes
Fuller's group, HCCC, was a founding member of the Collaborative, but withdrew in January.
Members of the Collaborative spoke in favor of the project at a meeting of the Urban Redevelopment Authority on January 12. And we (I am president of Race Street 2050) will be at the Commission meeting this afternoon.
It should be interesting.
There's a lot more to this story; stay tuned for Part 2.