PHILADELPHIA — Today, the City announced a settlement agreement in the case of I.B.I.D. Associates Limited Partnership v Councilmember Jamie Gauthier and the City of Philadelphia. The lawsuit alleged that Councilmember Gauthier and the City of Philadelphia had violated IBID’s constitutional right to sell a 2.6 acre property and to take advantage of the property’s former zoning for high-density commercial and mixed uses.
Under the terms of the settlement, $3.5M will be received by the City of Philadelphia. The City has engaged United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey to distribute the funds to the former tenants of 70 units at the University City Townhomes to mitigate the costs of relocation. Additionally, United Way has been retained to provide support services to the tenants, which will be funded by a coalition of University City anchor institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Penn Medicine, University City Science Center, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
IBID will transfer a 23,595 square foot parcel of the property to the City’s inventory for the development of 70 permanently affordable units plus community green space. As a part of the agreement, the City will amend the Affordable Housing Overlay (AHP) to exclude the IBID property.
“As our city continues to grow and attract new amenities, collaboration between residents, stakeholders, and property owners is necessary to ensure that all Philadelphians have access to affordable and quality housing. I am grateful that this settlement will facilitate equitable development through the preservation of affordable housing in West Philadelphia. I commend Councilmember Jamie Gauthier for her efforts to advocate for residents in her district, and I thank the Law Department for their work to ensure that the former tenants of the University City Townhomes receive comprehensive support in their path forward,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.
“We are pleased that the terms of this settlement will provide relocation support to tenants who have been displaced from their homes, while also prioritizing the preservation of affordable housing in a rapidly developing part of the city. We thank Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, the University of Pennsylvania, United Way, and the activists and residents from the UC Townhomes for their commitment to advocating for housing access for all Philadelphians and for participating in the process to craft a settlement agreement with an equitable result,” said Diana Cortes, City Solicitor.
“Even though true equity means no one gets displaced from their home, this settlement is a historic win. No one has ever fought this hard, or won as much, for the residents of an expired affordable housing site, and I am excited by the creation of 70 permanently affordable homes in the heart of a rapidly gentrifying area of opportunity. I ran for City Council because I believe equitable development and working class residents are worth fighting for. This settlement proves what we can accomplish when we stand up for the rights of low-income neighbors and reminds us that the City must take a more proactive and bold approach to preserving affordable housing. Thank you to the residents from the UC Townhomes for their unwavering defense of deeply affordable housing. I am inspired by how you banded together to stand up for what you deserve. And thank you to the Kenney Administration, the City Law Department, United Way, and the coalition of anchor institutions in University City for supporting my efforts to ensure all of my constituents, no matter their socioeconomic status, can remain in the neighborhoods their families have called home for generations,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.
Originally introduced in October 2021 by Councilmember Jaime Gauthier (3rd District), the Affordable Housing Preservation Overlay District (AHPOD) seeks to support the public interest by making sure as much affordable housing remains in amenity-rich neighborhoods as possible.
The Overlay prohibited speculative demolition by introducing a demolition moratorium on large properties through March 2023, and by requiring developers to apply for a special demolition permit. City Council gave final approval of the Affordable Housing Preservation Overlay Bill in March of 2022.
The site encompasses the former University City Townhomes, a 70-unit development which has sustained an affordable housing contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for over 40 years. On July 8 2021, IBID informed HUD that it would not be renewing its affordable housing contract, prompting calls from residents and activists to extend the contract and stop the sale of the property.
The settlement in I.B.I.D. Associates Limited Partnership v Councilmember Jamie Gauthier and the City of Philadelphia was negotiated to ensure affordable housing retention in the community, while allowing for IBID’s development to proceed according to the property’s former zoning for high-density commercial and mixed uses.