PHA and City Open Blackwell Community Center in West Philadelphia

Jannie and KJ

PHA and the City of Philadelphia formally opened the Lucien E. Blackwell Community Center in West Philadelphia on the site of the housing development that bears the name of the late congressman and city councilman.  PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah, shown here with Ms. Blackwell, said the opening of the new center is a testament to her hard work and her late husband's leadership.  

Blackwell Center

The new Lucien E. Blackwell Center is located at the intersection of 47th and Aspen Streets in West Philadelphia, and covers approximately 12,000 square feet.  It features a regulation size basketball/volleyball court, warming kitchen, community room, and outdoor patio. 

 Blackwell Park

The final segment of the Blackwell development is a park built by the City adjacent to the new community center. The new park complements the community center with space for the residents of Mill Creek and the surrounding neighborhood.

(Philadelphia, PA - October 12, 2018)-The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) and the City of Philadelphia today formally opened the long-awaited Lucien E. Blackwell Community Center, on the site of the West Philadelphia public housing development that bears the name of the late congressman and city councilman. 

"We are excited that residents of the Mill Creek neighborhood and Lucien E. Blackwell Homes have a modern and convenient community gathering space," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah.  "This center reflects our commitment to improving the quality of life in neighborhoods across the city in a variety of ways. I want to thank Mayor Jim Kenney, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and the Department of Parks and Recreation for working with us to make this construction possible. "

The building, located at the intersection of 47th and Aspen Streets, covers approximately 12,000 square feet.  It features a regulation size basketball/volleyball court, warming kitchen, community room, and outdoor patio. The site also contains parking spaces and an INDEGO bike station, and has LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

"This center will become a pillar of the community, very much like the man for whom it is named," Mayor Kenney said. "We did not have the opportunity to work together because Lu left Council just as I began my service there. However, I am very aware of his trailblazing accomplishments. This center will live on as yet another of his and Councilwoman Blackwell's contributions to serving this community."

Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, widow of Lucien and a former PHA commissioner, secured $2 million from the City as part of the $6.3 million construction cost.

 "We've wanted to build this center since 2001," Blackwell said. "We're very grateful to see it become reality, so that we can fulfill our commitment to the neighborhood, to the community, and certainly to the legacy of Lucien Blackwell."

"I want kids to get off their smart phones and out to play whenever possible," said Rose Bryant, president of the resident council at Blackwell Homes. "So, this new community center will help us meet that objective."

"The opening of this community center is a cause for great celebration," said Joe DeFelice, Regional Administrator of HUD's Mid-Atlantic region. "I celebrate knowing HUD has made a difference, providing $4.3 million to help bring this much-needed center into being. I also celebrate the strong partnerships that continue to transform and improve living conditions in the neighborhood, which will go a long way in keeping Lucien Blackwell's memory and legacy alive."
JD Bravo Company,  a 100 percent disabled veteran Minority Business Enterprise, built the center and met its goal of 30 percent of hires who are low- or very-low income residents under  the federal Section 3 program.

The development took 19 months to complete. The new center is the next to last phase of redevelopment of the former Mill Creek housing project under a former federal program called HOPE VI, which enabled PHA to rid the neighborhood of old style public housing. PHA completed the last of 685 units of new family-style homes in 2008, both on the former Mill Creek site and in the surrounding area. 

The final segment of the development is a park built by the City next to the new community center. The new park complements the community center with space for the residents of Mill Creek and the surrounding neighborhood.