Mantua Transformation Plan Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

K&A was both planning coordinator and lead planner in this 24-month comprehensive community revitalization effort in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Funded by a Planning Grant under HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, this community-driven planning process had the Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments as its centerpiece and the larger Mantua community as the focus area of a coordinated revitalization initiative.

As identified by both residents and local stakeholders within the community, The Mantua Transformation Plan included a comprehensive and multi-faceted set of strategies that addressed seven key neighborhood priorities which, in the eyes of the community, would help to ensure and improve the local area’s access to affordable housing, quality education and adequate health services. The seven priorities identified by the community were Quality Education, Economic Self-Sufficiency, Safety, Health, Housing, Neighborhood Amenities and Civic Engagement. The plan’s ultimate success would hinge upon the planning team’s ability to maintain an open and ongoing dialogue with the community as regards these key aspects, as well as coordinate efforts between multiple partners in the public, private and non-profit sectors for advancing the plan’s final implementation.

The first phase of the Mantua plan’s implementation consisted of the renovation of seventy-five apartment units throughout thirteen buildings, including four units with wheelchair accessibility. The newly renovated apartment community features an all-purpose community room, a computer lab and a laundry facility. The second phase of the plan aims to renovate an additional fifty units of affordable housing.

The ongoing revitalization of the Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments, as well as the surrounding Mantua neighborhood, represents a significant step towards achieving the vision set forth during the planning process by the area’s residents and key stakeholders. In 2013 The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association awarded the Mantua Transformation Plan its Opportunity & Empowerment Award. And more recently, Mantua was named a HUD Promise Zone—one of only five communities nationwide to be so designated.

The story of Mantua was recently highlighted as part of a published series on community transformation underwritten by Local Initiatives Support Corporation—a national organization dedicated to helping community residents transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity. You can read the article here.