MY HUNTING PARK
In the heart of Hunting Park, Esperanza Housing and Economic Development (EHED) is leading a neighbor-driven revitalization process with the potential to become a model of change for communities across the city of Philadelphia. Over the course of the past 30 years, Esperanza has been working to restore hope in the neighborhoods surrounding its institutional campus. Through proven strategies that create opportunity and allow residents to become the agents of the change they want to see, we are creating a new narrative in Hunting Park and Feltonville.
In 2012, EHED engaged community-serving organizations and more than 700 residents in the creation of a Neighborhood Strategic Plan that studied existing conditions and established broad recommendations for the revitalization of Hunting Park. By working with determined community partners to create and implement the Hunting Park Neighborhood Strategic Plan 2022, EHED has forged a shared mission for this revitalization of the surrounding community:
“To transform Hunting Park into a destination and a model neighborhood by empowering its people and fostering community engagement, economic and physical development, and education.”
OUR THREE CORE STRATEGIES
Our shared vision for Hunting Park is for a community where people choose to live and raise their families, where businesses desire to locate, and where customers come to find a variety of retail offerings. EHED is committed to administering programs that enable residents and business owners to combat poverty and disinvestment in order to make their neighborhood a local destination. EHED’s Commercial Corridor Management Program serves more than 200 small businesses along the 5th Street, Hunting Park Avenue, and Wyoming Avenue business districts. Dedicated staff provide local merchants with individual technical assistance, capacity building, marketing and event coordination, and daily street cleaning. To date, EHED has helped small entrepreneurs access over $300,000 in small grants and rebates for storefront improvements, making their businesses more competitive and advancing the implementation of the district’s unique Latino Corridor Design Vision. EHED also helped to organize the Hunting Park Business Association, the neighborhood’s only independent merchant association, and provides ongoing support for its growth and development.
Community Development & Education
From the initiation of the neighborhood planning process, Esperanza has emphasized community leadership as a determining factor in the success and sustainability of Hunting Park’s revitalization. Programs seek to assist residents and business owners in accessing the resources they need, and to develop their capacity to create the change they want to see. As a result, the “Esperanza effect” has taken hold across the neighborhood. While Esperanza’s innovative NeighborCare Team program has provided over $80,000 in small grants to improve block conditions, a new institutional collaborative is building community capacity. As a result, neighbors already have expressed they feel safer and more engaged. EHED’s community development staff also helps to bridge the education gap in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in Hunting Park. A community science network organized with The Franklin Institute and new extracurricular STEM programming at sites around the neighborhood are igniting interest in STEM careers and offering students high-quality educational alternatives.
Real Estate Development
Esperanza’s original mission when it was founded in 1987 was to confront poverty, disinvestment, blight, and lack of economic opportunity in the Hunting Park neighborhood of Philadelphia, through affordable housing and economic solutions. Since then, Esperanza has invested significant time and energy building assets through residential and commercial real estate development.
Since the 1990s, Esperanza has completed numerous transformative projects, including the following:
- Constructing 36 new townhomes on formerly vacant lots
- Developing five apartment units for senior citizens
- Creating a community laundromat, in response to neighborhood residents’ requests via a feedback survey
- Rehabilitating of more than 100 homes for affordable rental or sale
- Acquiring a 9-acre site and, through rehabilitation and construction, creating the institutional campus that is home to our corporate headquarters, Esperanza College, Esperanza Academy, and all our community-serving programs. As of early 2017, nearly all of the available 300,000 square feet of space has been renovated, for an investment of over $15 million into the community. The institutions and programs housed in these facilities employ nearly 400 people, and we are continuing to develop and expand them.
- Constructing a Rite Aid pharmacy on a 2.2 acre, previously vacant lot on North 5th Street. This project resulted in an investment of $3.5 million to the 5th Street Corridor and brought the first national employer to the area.
- Developing Esperanza Center at 199 Hunting Park Ave, offering space for programmatic use, as well as local church congregations.
- Purchasing and improving a vacant lot at 4431-33 N. 5th Street to create La Cosecha Latina community garden
In 2016, Esperanza entered the next phase of campus development, which includes the Esperanza Performing Arts Media Technology Center, a state-of-the-art gymnasium, an art gallery, a new college library, and a chapel. It has also broken ground on the development of the Roberto Clemente Homes, a project that will convert a blighted former factory at the gateway of Hunting Park’s 5th Street Corridor into 38 units of affordable rental housing and 5,000 square feet of new commercial space. Driven by conviction in its mission and a vision for the boundless future of Hunting Park, Esperanza continues to invest in projects that improve the lives of the people it serves.