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Introducing The Lawson Residences at Von Louhr
On Wednesday, May 23, 2012, ACHIEVEability proudly unveiled the newly renovated and re-syndicated tax credit property, The Lawson Residences at Von Louhr.
More than 100 people were in attendance for this beautiful early afternoon ribbon cutting and naming ceremony which included a brief program, a tour of the 24-unit apartment building and a reception. Guests included local stakeholders, community members, ACHIEVEability board members, staff and participants.
"I'd rather hear the sound of a nail being driven into a beam than a gunshot," PA State Representative Ronald Waters addressed to the crowd, capturing the nature of this development project. In addition to Representative Water's moving words, the program was highlighted by comments from contributors including PNC Bank VP of MultiFamily Capital Peter Kaplan and Public Affairs Officer of PHFA Barbara Stephens. Reverend Campbell of Mount Carmel Baptist Church gave the opening prayer and ACHIEVEability staff including CEO Marcus Allen and Director of Self-Sufficiency Jamila Harris-Morrison presented, as well. In addition, ACHIEVEability participant Bahiyyah Torres shared her story with the audience, conveying the impact ACHIEVEability has had on her and her family.
The program also included an award presentation from Executive Director John Gallery of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. The Lawson Residences of Von Louhr was bestowed with a special 100th anniversary recognition award. This is only the third time this award has been given by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.
The program concluded with the naming tribute, honoring long tenured supporter and member of the ACHIEVEability Board of Directors Jes Lawson. ACHIEVEability Board Chair Tom Flippen, ACHIEVEability Board Member Tony Schweiger and Jes Lawson's wife Mary Ann Lawson introduced Mr. Lawson and unveiled the new building sign for The Lawson Residences at Von Louhr. Mr. Lawson has served on the ACHIEVEability board since 2005 and has held the position of Board Treasurer since 2007. During 2008 and 2009, he so graciously served as the interim CEO of the organization on a volunteer basis, providing guidance and leadership. In addition, he has been instrumental in supporting ACHIEVEability fundraising efforts.
This $7 million project, which began back in early 2010, came to completion in May 2012. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Von Louhr building. Built in 1912 by one of West Philadelphia’s important developers, William C. Smith, the building documented the far-reaching changes that were transforming the nature of Philadelphia’s residential development in the early twentieth century. This includes the construction of the Market Street Elevated Train beginning in 1906 and a changing ideology about urban living which began to advocate the apartment house and the flat instead of the traditional Philadelphian row house.
In maintaining the historical context of the Von Louhr building, ACHIEVEability’s renovation preserves the building’s original California Mission façade, ornate masonry and intricate woodwork. The renovation exemplifies ACHIEVEability’s belief in paying homage to the heritage of West Philadelphia while still focusing on the future. The building now boasts a completely overhauled HVAC system, providing central air to all 24 low income apartments, new Energy Star appliances, energy efficient windows and insulation, and a newly installed elevator to accommodate residents with disabilities, just to name a few. The Lawson Residences at Von Louhr will serve as a beacon for excellence in the ever growing and developing West Philadelphia community.
The ribbon cutting and naming ceremony underscores the impact ACHIEVEability has had on the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This celebration honors ACHIEVEability’s 30 year history of serving the West Philadelphia community and supporting single parent families on their journeys to self-sufficiency. The original ACHIEVEability syndication of the Von Louhr building, which was incorporated in 1990, marked an historical achievement becoming one of the first buildings in the United States to combine low income Federal housing tax credits and historic tax credits. After more than 20 years of providing housing for ACHIEVEability families, The Lawson Residences at Von Louhr will continue into the future, providing housing for many more families who are aspiring to become successful and break the generational cycle of poverty.
Please click here to see the article on Philly.com by Inquirer Real Estate Columnist Al Heavens.
Please click here to see the article on the CBS Philly website by Cherri Gregg.
Please click here to see photos from the event posted on the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce flickr site.