How soon you forget
If it wasn’t for the financial crisis of 5 years ago, there would be an upscale housing and retail community built alongside PPL Park today on the river front. The average price of homes were estimated to be in the mid-$200,000s. And they would have sold out. (Go down to Highland Ave and Seaport Drive to see a sign on that corner with an artist’s rendition of that proposed community).
Only because the banks stopped lending money for big development did that community not get built. Somehow, through creative financing, they did manage to get the stadium built.
There’s a good chance that the upscale housing and retail shops will make its way to the riverfront in the next 10 years provided the banks start acting right by then. (Another reason why the Pileggi bill for KOZ extensions is good for Chester).
Chester’s $200,000 renters
Chester already has an upscale neighborhood where 23 year olds have paid nearly $200,000 to live in Chester for four years. Unfortunately, they are not permanent residents or home owners and we can’t collect tax dollars from them.
These young people live in the most beautiful area of Chester where there is 24/7 security, their own police force, constant camera surveillance on nearly every inch of their ‘hood, with plenty of retail and entertainment options to suit their needs.
The so called bad people of Chester dare not venture into their space because they know the risk is too great.
That place is called Widener University.
So why can’t downtown Chester be converted into an upscale community?
The only reason we don’t have more desirable residents with money living in Chester is because we haven’t built them a desirable place to live.
You know they’re coming with their own security force, cameras, and gates. Just like Widener’s campus, ain’t nobody going to bother them when they build homes in their community.
They’re coming whether you like it or not
If we don’t plan to bring in a higher income, home owning, tax paying resident, they will come in ways that may not be so pleasant.
Here’s a likely scenario…
Imagine our broke federal government being forced to cut more funding. As always, they cut funds from the poor first.
Let’s imagine that they decide that they will no longer support public housing. The Chester Housing Authority’s funds will be cut so much that they can’t afford to keep the spacious land mass that the Bennett Homes sits on.
The housing authority sells the land to a private developer for a nice price in order to keep the other public housing projects alive.
Now, a high end gated community is built for well-to-do folks and a bunch of poor people from the Bennett are kicked to the curb.
That would not be a pretty situation.
Fail to Plan or keep the same failed plan
Chester has a lot of space to start attracting high income residents. It will not affect the current population at all. We can all live together in a mixed income city.
High income families that would be attracted to Chester would be young professionals, single, or married with young kids. They can afford private schools. They don’t mind taking a small safety risk in order to live comfortably and affordably compared to a center city Philadelphia.
At least in Chester, we have the ability to gate a community. In Philly, young professionals renovate neighborhoods and move right next to the crack house in hopes that the rest of the neighborhood continues to thrive.
As Mayor Butler and John Linder are always saying --- ‘There are some bad elements in Chester but most of the people are good, hardworking, family people.’
Let’s attract some more good people to Chester.