Michaels' $11 million renovation of Historic Affordable Housing Nears Completion

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Revitalized Ascension Manor Preserves Essential Affordable Housing for Seniors in Philadelphia

An extensive renovation of Ascension Manor in North Philadelphia ensures the community will remain affordable housing. Photo by Danielle Austen

"The new amenities are aimed at residents enjoying and sharing activities with one another. We are excited about the life-giving atmosphere that has been created for the residents." --Archbishop Soroka

The Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, along with its development partner, The Michaels Organization, today hosted a “sneak peak” of the newly revitalized Ascension Manor, a landmark affordable housing community for seniors and those with disabilities in North Philadelphia that the Archdiocese has owned for the past four decades.

Neighbors, local businesses, community leaders and church members enjoyed an Open House where they could see the progress of the $11 million dollar renovation effort—now over 80 percent complete—that involves substantial capital improvements to the buildings and park-like grounds, while ensuring the community remains as affordable housing long into the future.

The Archdiocese built the first Ascension Manor Tower in 1967 so that elderly residents of this traditional Ukrainian neighborhood in North Philadelphia could stay near family, friends, and their church. A second tower was added in 1977. The two high-rises now serve almost 300 seniors and individuals with disabilities from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Working with The Michaels Organization’s Continental Mortgage Corp., the Archdiocese was able to refinance two previous Section 202 direct loans from The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with a new loan insured under HUD’s 221(d)(4) Substantial Rehabilitation program.

The refinance generated enough funding for the Archdiocese to make significant capital improvements to the building systems and to almost completely gut the ground floors of each building to transform them into community rooms and residential units.

"We've added more common open space, furnished in such a manner that it would encourage residents to gather and socialize with one another," said Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, adding that one of his primary objectives was to revitalize the communal aspects of the Ascension Towers.

"The new computer lab, craft and exercise rooms, and a meditation room all are aimed at residents enjoying and sharing activities with one another," the Archbishshop said. "We are excited about the life-giving atmosphere that has been created for the residents."

During the renovation, all the upper floor hallways and all apartments were updated and modernized. Additional improvements to the grounds ensure greater access for mobility-impaired residents and guests, and include a walking path that circles the entire campus. The renovation, which began in August 2010, will be fully complete by September 2011.

Continental Mortgage Corp. is part of The Michaels Organization, a family of companies dedicated to excellence in affordable housing. Its sister company, Interstate Realty Management, has provided property and asset management services to Ascension Manor for years. After arranging for the refinance, staff from Continental Mortgage Corp. worked closely with the owner’s Board and served as the developer for the renovation.

“We are proud to be able to help the Archdiocese revitalize this property, which is such an important landmark in North Philadelphia,” said William Gorodetzer, president of Continental Mortgage Corp. “At a time when the need for affordable housing has never been greater, but finding desirable affordable housing is so difficult, especially for seniors, preserving the affordability of Ascension Manor while ensuring that the improvements provide a modern comfortable environment that enhances their quality of life is wonderful for the residents. It also provides peace of mind for their family members and makes Ascension Manor a significant asset for its neighborhood and the city,” Gorodetzer said.

In addition to the leadership of the Archdiocese, Gorodetzer also credited the success of the revitalization to the project's Architect, Brawer & Hauptman, the General Contractor Dale Corp., the staff of the Philadelphia HUD Office, and the Interstate Realty Management staff at Ascension Manor.

About Ascension Manor
Ascension Manor is a non-profit senior citizen apartment project of the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Ascension Manor has two apartment buildings that are located one block away from the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

About The Michaels Organization:
Continental Mortgage Corp. and Interstate Realty Management are part of The Michaels Organization, a family of companies dedicated to excellence in affordable, mixed-income, student, and military housing. Michaels Development Company is the number-one ranked privately held affordable housing owner in the country and in 2010 was named the Development Company of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders. Interstate Realty Management is an award-winning property and asset management company offering nationally acclaimed social services.

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