By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The City of Philadelphia today cut the ribbon on an historic building in Mount Airy, once a neighborhood eyesore, that has been fully renovated to its 19th-Century glory.
The $16-million property will provide an affordable home for dozens of senior citizens.
The George Nugent Home for Baptists was built in 1895 as a home for elderly Baptist ministers and their wives. Fast forward to 2002, and the vacant property was in disrepair and up for demolition.
But the community saved it from the wrecking ball four years later, adding the chateau-like edifice to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
“It had been a very cold, dark, wet, and frankly very scary place,” says James Nolen of Nolen Properties (at center of ribbon-cutting photo). His company purchased the property and used $2.6 million in city funds and millions more in tax credits from PNC to convert the Johnson Street home into 57 units of affordable housing for seniors.
“Buildings like the Nugent building are incredibly challenging,” he says, “but today we have a building that we are so happy to be in, and it’s one of the most magnificent and majestic structures in the city of Philadelphia.”
“I have one bathroom, I’m on the ground floor, so I don’t have to catch elevators,” said Frieda Savage (third from right in photo), a senior who moved into the Nugent Senior Apartments earlier this month. “It’s a beautiful apartment — everything is brand new.”
The building includes handicapped-accessible units, a community room, and social services for seniors. It also includes 12-foot-high ceilings, a grand staircase, and decorative walls that were either maintained, restored, or replicated from the original, 19th-Century building.