Developer breaks ground for housing near TUH

LaCorte Property Management will build a 15-unit apartment complex near Temple University Hospital.

LaCorte Property Management is a 15-unit apartment complex on two vacant lots at 17th and Venango streets. | JULIE CHRISTIE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

A 15-unit apartment complex broke ground at 17th and Venango streets near the Health Sciences Campus on Nov. 28, in the first phase of a three-block project that will ultimately yield 90 units. This is the first large residential development near Temple University Hospital for several years.

LaCorte Property Management, a Philadelphia-based developer run by Tom and April LaCorte, will develop and act as the landlords for the apartments.

Tom LaCorte said the apartments will be marketed toward students and “young professionals” in the area who likely work at TUH. The complex will be divided into five separate buildings, each one called a “triplex,” containing three floors, with one unit on each floor.

“There hasn’t been any development here for a long time,” Tom LaCorte said, emphasizing the numerous vacant lots in the area.

There are almost 4,000 vacant housing units in the same ZIP code as LaCorte’s development, according to the United States Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey.

He added that the project is expected to cost about $2 million for this first phase, however it is not the only development LaCorte Property Management’s plans for the area.

People will be able to move into the apartments in about three months, Tom LaCorte said.

Six other units are already built on 16th Street between Westmoreland and Ontario streets, Tom LaCorte said. People moved into those units seven weeks after they were completed, he added. Eventually, there will be 90 total units.

About a year and a half before securing the property, Tom LaCorte met with Larry Kaiser, the president and CEO of Temple University Health System and dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, and Alan Rosenberg, the vice president, chief of staff and chief administrative officer of TUHS, to discuss this development.

“They were excited about the idea,” Tom LaCorte said. “But I knew other developers said they’d build and never did. … I’ll have to let them know we’re building.”

Renderings on the developer’s website show more traditional brick facades with large bay windows, rather than the modern, industrial style many developers often use. LaCorte said when he went to community meetings, residents said they didn’t want the modern style. Half of the buildings in the zip code were built before 1939.

Verna Tyner, the president of Tioga United, a community group near the development, said the residents wanted the new development to reflect the architecture of the rest of the community.

“Development like this can be good, but it can also cause concern because of taxes going up and people feeling like they’re being pushed out,” she said.

She added residents think development like the apartments at 16th and Venango will “bring back quality of life, remove blight…and have a domino effect on safety.”

The apartments are part of a “small boom” of potential development in the area, Tyner said. Other developers are expressing interest to community groups or are in the process of acquiring properties.

Community groups like Tioga United often partner with developers because it’s difficult for nonprofits and community groups to fund their own developments.

“If we had the dollars and cents, we would do it ourselves,” she said. “But if we the community don’t stick together, then we let others tear us apart.”

The complex will also be made with modular construction, Tom LaCorte said. This means each floor will be constructed and painted off site, then lifted into location, reducing noise and disruption in the area, he added.

The foundation for the basement and the walls will be poured this week, then the modules will be lifted into place.

“It should jump start the area,” Tom LaCorte said.

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