Saint Rita Place and the Cascia Center, a new affordable housing community for independent seniors in South Philadelphia, celebrated its opening last week with a blessing from Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez.
A special ceremony was held at the corner of Broad and Ellsworth streets on Nov. 10 to officially bless and open the new building.
Saint Rita Place consists of 46 one-bedroom apartments for income-eligible seniors 62 and older. Features include a community room, food cupboard, laundry facilities, resident lounges and on-site social services facilitated by the Catholic Housing and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The ground floor includes the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia’s vision for the Cascia Center, a multi-purpose space for the work of community-building, peacemaking and reconciliation. The 7,500-square-foot space features offices, conference rooms, a kitchen and facilities for various ministries that serve the needs of those who come as religious pilgrims to the Shrine.
“The dedication of Saint Rita Place and the Cascia Center is the culmination of a vision that began over a decade ago,” said Heather Huot, director of CHCS. “The remarkable partnership of CHCS and the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia has created a beautiful and affordable home for seniors and a welcoming space for the sharing of Saint Rita’s charism of peace and healing.”
The building was designed by Cecil Baker + Partners Architects as an entirely new structure. The company completed the architectural design work of CHCS’ Saint Francis Villa in Kensington in 2016.
“Saint Rita Place and Cascia Center is such a unique and impactful mixed-use development that will introduce a beautiful, safe and sustainable affordable home for seniors, as well as a new Cascia Center. We are proud to partner with CHCS to bring their vision to life,” said Nancy Bastian, partner, Cecil Baker + Partners Architects. “We had the exciting challenge of introducing a new development that celebrates the iconic and historic early 20th-century National Shrine located next door. We utilized stone to complement the existing church structure, as well as red brick for residential scale. The new, landscaped plaza that is created between Saint Rita Place and the Shrine will become a place for residents and pilgrims to the Shrine to gather.”
In 2019, the Saint Rita Place development was awarded with a tax credit allocation of about $12 million by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and partnered with RBC Capital Markets and Capital One for financing of the development.
The development also received assistance from the City of Philadelphia, National Housing Trust Funds, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh Affordable Housing Program Funds and a private investment. The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia also contributed $1.4 million toward the cost of constructing the Cascia Center. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia donated the land for the development.