A stalled redevelopment plan that is subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit is moving forward on two fronts - but just barely.
Mount Holly officials now say they want to settle - rather than fight - with the residents of a blighted area who had sued to keep from being evicted. The residents are mostly minorities and claimed the town's plans to raze their homes and build apartments for wealthier people was discriminatory.
Officials now say they plan to offer affordable replacement homes to the more than 20 hold-outs. The residents may even be able to stay in the neighborhood, but in a different area.
Meanwhile, after years of inactivity, the redeveloper is taking steps to begin building apartments and townhomes in the section where many of the rowhomes in the Mount Holly Gardens were demolished years ago.
Michael Sencindiver, president of Keating Urban Partners, said in an interview last week that the Philadelphia-based company is seeking approvals to construct 220 apartments and 60 townhomes. "We're ready to go," he said. He hopes groundbreaking will be this spring.
Among the apartments, he said, are 22 that will be classified as affordable. The townhomes, however, are "market rate" and will go for about $200,000 or $210,000, he said. The company also plans to do infrastructure for the development.
The delay, he said, was due to the economic conditions, wetlands issues and the approval process.