Each year the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia presents Grand Jury Awards to select historic preservation projects throughout the Philadelphia region which have exemplified outstanding achievement. This year Thriven Design celebrates Mission First Housing Group’s Parkside Neighborhood Preservation as one of the award-winning projects. Thriven Design is honored to have been recognized for providing architectural and engineering expertise, alongside the project team members of Heritage Consulting Group, Columbus Property Management and Development, and Berman Indictor.

The Parkside Neighborhood Preservation project successfully rehabilitated 82 units of architecturally distinctive affordable housing within the Parkside Historic District adjacent to Memorial Hall in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The Parkside Historic District, which was registered as a National Historic Place in 1983, has a fascinating architectural history and is known for its heavily ornamented Victorian-era homes built originally for wealthy German American settlers to the area.

Today, the Parkside Neighborhood offers permanent residence to some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents, including individuals who were formerly homeless, experience mental illness, or are physically disabled. Many of the households are at below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and others at below 20% of the AMI. Mission First Housing Group received strong support for the development, including 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, and funds from the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Many of the buildings were constructed in 1895 and last renovated in the early 2000s and were in need of structural reinforcement and building system updates. Much historic fabric remained and was sensitively restored or encapsulated, including stairs, inlaid hardwood floors, doors, windows, and brick facades. Structural deficiencies were addressed by designing posts and beams that were woven into the building, avoiding gas, water, and electric lines attached to or penetrating through the joists requiring reinforcement. Water using appliances, light fixtures, kitchens, and HVAC systems were also replaced with modern energy efficient fixtures and equipment.

Accessibility upgrades were made during the rehabilitation to bring units up to full ADA compliance. This effort included replacing a non-operable exterior platform lift with the design of a new enclosed hydraulic elevator located such that the rear yard could be used for additional uses in the future.

Thriven Design’s comprehensive Asset Preservation work on the Parkside Neighborhood Preservation is the firm’s most recent collaboration with Philadelphia-based Mission First Housing Group. Thriven Design has previously partnered with Mission First Housing Group on the mixed-use redevelopment of New Market West in West Philadelphia, as well as the 41-unit affordable housing community known as the Apartments at New Market West. New Market West was a 2021 winner of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC) Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Community Development.