Zoning board approves redevelopment of Orinoka Mills in Kensington

The Philadelphia zoning board voted on Tuesday to approve a 51-unit, mixed-use redevelopment of a former industrial property at the corner of East Somerset and Ruth streets in Kensington.

The property will include one- and two-bedroom apartment units reserved for residents earning between 20 percent and 60 percent of Area Median Income, or roughly $14,000 to $33,000 per year for an individual. It is currently zoned for industrial use, though it hasn’t been used actively for three decades, according to Mark Levin, an attorney with Regional Housing Legal Services. Levin was representing the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, which is developing the project.

The project, which will be known as Orinoka Mills Civic House, will also include community space for NKCDC and a coffee shop. It will have space for 26 cars, which was increased from the 16 originally proposed in response to concerns from neighbors. Representatives for the project said they don’t expect most residents to have cars.

NKCDC is currently seeking a tenant to operate the coffee shop. A sign on top of the building will be visible from the nearby El station, and will be “a visual reminder of the revitalization of the neighborhood,” according to Levin.

The project had the support of Council members Mark Squilla and María Quiñones-Sánchez—the property will move from Squilla’s district to Sánchez’ in 2016—and a number of local community groups.   

Read previous coverage from PlanPhilly here and here.

About the author

Jared Brey, Reporter

Jared Brey is a freelance reporter based in Philadelphia. His work has been featured in Philadelphia magazine, Hidden CityThe Philadelphia InquirerCity & State, and other publications. He covered development, zoning policy, historic preservation, and city government for PlanPhilly from 2011-2016. 

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