Affordable Housing Plan for West Collingswood Extension Scuttled
Neighborhood opposition to an affordable housing proposal in the West Collingswood Extension section of Haddon Township has tabled the issue.
Who says you can't fight City Hall? Certainly not the neighbors in the West Collingswood Extension section of Haddon Township.
Word of a plan to build a 52-unit affordable-housing apartment building there brought out nearly 200 residents for a raucous meeting with Mayor Randy Teague in late January.
The deal could have transformed the Black Horse Pike Auto Complex, an aging auto dealership in foreclosure, and possibly settled a lawsuit by a local housing advocacy group.
But the neighbors of West Collingswood Extension were having none of it.
"It's something that the group strongly opposed," Teague said Monday. "At this time, it does not appear it's going to go forward."
Teague said he wanted to slow down the process earlier this month. The neighbors wanted to kill it in its tracks. They appear to have won.
"As a community, we have continued to hold meetings to anticipate what could happen and discuss our possible plan of action," community leader Francine Tryka said Monday.
"We have a lot of great ideas along with a lot of passion for keeping our community the little gem we think it is."
Teague said that a 7:30 p.m. Wednesday meeting at the West Collingswood Extension Civic Association building will still continue as planned. He will bring the township planner and engineer with him to speak about the virtues of a redeveloping the complex.
In January Haddon Township commissioners approved a resolution instructing the planning board to consider designating the auto complex as a redevelopment zone. That designation would start a process to help determine a suitable use for the property, including incentives to developers, such as a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.
One such developer could have been the Walters Group, which Teague said was exploring buying the property. The group is building an 82-unit, market-rate apartment building on the old Russell Cast Stone site behind the Keg & Kitchen.
The Walters Group is being sued by the Fair Share Housing Center, a local housing advocacy group, to include affordable units in the Westmont project. Buying the auto complex site to build affordable-housing could have resolved that suit. Now that plan seems to have been scrapped.