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Miracle on Seventh Street

Posted by Linda Dottor Mt. Tabor Cyber Village Senior Housing opened its doors with a jubilant ribbon cutting celebration on January 10. The affordable, 56-unit apartment complex just below NoLibs is a refreshing break from the ordinary, due in part to early design assistance from the Collaborative.

Mt. Tabor Cyber Village offers singles and couples 55 and older an affordable housing alternative, plus great community-building amenities like a Cyber Café, health and fitness center, and garden. Mt. Tabor also offers a spirited, contemporary design that doesn’t turn its back on the East Poplar neighborhood.

Mt. Tabor Community Education and Economic Development Corporation (Mt. Tabor CEED) worked ten years to build “something very special for our seniors ” on a large vacant lot on North 7th Street, next to Mt. Tabor AME Church. “It took six years and weekly brainstorming sessions just to acquire the land,” recalls Reverend Lang, one of the pastors of Mt. Tabor AME Church and a long-time champion of the project.

In 2004, Mt. Tabor CEED asked the Community Design Collaborative for a conceptual design to illustrate their vision: affordable rental housing for seniors that used technology to build a sense of community and connect with the larger neighborhood. The Collaborative enlisted Becker Winston Architects, which  showed Mt. Tabor CEED how multi-family housing could be built on the site and bridge an uneven neighborhood fabric that includes the majestic brownstone Mt. Tabor AME Church, a 70’s era “super block” apartment house across the street, and rowhouses within view.

“It was a wonderful introduction to the community’s leaders,” says Dick Winston, Principal of DLR Group/Becker Winston. Mt. Tabor CEED ultimately hired his firm as the design consultant for its development team. Encouraged by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to “raise the bar on design,” DLR Group/Becker Winston broke up the building’s long façade by mixing materials and colors and projecting pieces of the façade to capture a rowhouse rhythm. The designers also split the building into two sections, angling each wing slightly off the city grid to create a dynamic feel and enough extra space to make the building’s entrance especially welcoming.

Keeping with its vision for a community that engages young and old, Mt. Tabor CEED’s is now laying the groundwork for an inter-generational community center next door.

View Plan Philly’s report and video from the January 10 ribbon cutting.



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