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A new housing development will soon be making its way to University City.

On the vacant corner of 43rd and Sansom streets, Apartments at Penn, a local real estate company that specializes in student housing, plans to construct a 31-unit housing complex with one- and two-bedroom apartments. The building will also feature 1,400 square feet of commercial space on its ground floor.

This project marks a new kind of enterprise for Apartments at Penn.

“We buy a lot of places, fix them up and rent them out,” Daniel DeRitis, owner of Apartments at Penn, said. “This was a new venture for us to do something different than we’ve been doing.”

DeRitis expects construction to begin on 43rd and Sansom in the near future.

“The Spruce Hill Community Association signed off on it, and the Zoning Board [of Adjustments] has already approved it,” he said. “We just need to apply for building permits.”

Before completing the final design for the building with Blitz Architects, DeRitis went to Spruce Hill to collect feedback from the community.

As the lot was just an open, green space in the neighborhood, “everyone [in Spruce Hill] wanted us to develop it,” DeRitis said.

Apartments at Penn was started by DeRitis’ father in 1996, after he left his position as the Director of Operations at Campus Apartments in University City.

The company now prides itself on being a proactive, tight-knit family business.

“We know our tenants by their first names,” DeRitis said. “Our service and family atmosphere sets us apart.”

Apartments at Penn currently owns 97 units in University City, and have all but four of them filled for the summer season.

DeRitis is excited about how Apartments at Penn is expanding in the neighborhood.

In addition to the proposed project on 43rd and Sansom, DeRitis has purchased two new sites that he plans to develop with some of his family members.

“There is definitely a need [in the area],” DeRitis said. “There’s a lot of new construction. [Companies] are building hundreds of units at a time.”

Ed Datz, executive director of Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services, sees these projects as positive developments for the area.

“Increasing housing options and bringing more housing and retail choices to West Philly benefits the neighborhood overall,” he said.

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