By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia Housing Authority officials have broken ground on a low-rise affordable housing complex that will replace the recently imploded high-rise Queen Lane Apartments in Germantown.

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Three years of at times contentious debate ended in a roar of approval for the start of a construction project that many hope will be the catalyst for a neighborhood rebirth.

PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah says the $22-million project will produce 55 affordable rental units:

“They will live in modern energy efficient low-rise housing that fits with the design of existing homes in this neighborhood.”

Rendering of new Queen Lane Apartments. (Credit: Philadelphia Housing Authority)

Rendering of new Queen Lane Apartments. (Credit: Philadelphia Housing Authority)

For Mayor Nutter, the project is another step in a long-range process to rid the city of high-rise, low-income housing:

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“Replacing high-rises with smaller, more personable, more personal and desirable housing. Family size units with front porches and green spaces like this development will help improve and enhance the quality in the neighborhood.”

The groundbreaking was a back to the future moment for Hakim Aleem, one of the original tenants of the Queen Lane Apartment tower. Aleem is hoping the new complex will bring back a lifestyle he fondly remembers:

“Here’s the original lease from 1955. When I moved in this place it was well maintained. You had the recreation room, you had all the churches in the community and any kind of store or business you could name was right here in this community.”

The green space at Queen Lane was designed with the idea to not build over an old burial ground on the site.

The new Queen Lane Apartments are expected to open this time next year.

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