Usually cities start with housing when they attempt to address urban poverty. But New York Times staffer Jon Hurdle reports that Philadelphia is trying a new approach. In addition building homes, the city is offering adding commercial and educational development.

"In the northern part of the city, the Philadelphia Housing Authority is razing part of the Norman Blumberg Apartments in the Sharswood neighborhood, which has had especially high rates of poverty, crime and urban blight. The agency plans to bring in shops, offices and schools, along with housing, in an ambitious program to breathe new life into a struggling community."

Ultimately, the success of the retail element may determine whether the plan works.

David Scolnic, a real estate lawyer with the Philadelphia firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, said the redevelopment plan had great potential to improve one of Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods. But its success, he added, hinges on whether new businesses can be persuaded to open there.

“The key to the whole development is how quickly can you get people back into the neighborhood, and that will give the retailers a chance to succeed if there are sufficient residents there,” Mr. Scolnic said. “If it works, it could be a model for similar developments nationwide.”

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