Phoenix Court Apartments Rise from the Ashes

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MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP-- There was a grand opening Friday for some apartments near Mount Carmel built at the spot where someone set six houses on fire in 2013.

The spot in Northumberland County has been transformed into apartments for seniors on fixed incomes.

Officials tell Newswatch 16 they hope to do more projects like this in Atlas to keep cleaning up the vacant and fire-damaged properties.

Anyone who lives in the village of Atlas, near Mount Carmel, probably remembers when several arsons happened about four years ago. In October of 2013, several houses on West Girard Street were set on fire.

"It was terrible," recalled Deb Parrish. "I panic every time I hear a fire whistle or fire alarm go off."

Crews started to tear the houses down that same day. Fast forward almost four years later, appropriately named after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes, the Phoenix Court Apartments were built on the site.

"It really cleaned up this neighborhood and it's a gateway to Mount Carmel borough. This is Mount Carmel township, but as you come in on Route 61 this is what you see," said Northumberland County Housing Authority executive director Ed Christiano.

Christiano calls Phoenix Court one of the best projects he's worked on. The apartments are geared towards seniors on fixed incomes.

Joy Berry lives in one of the apartments. She moved here from Kulpmont.

"It's gorgeous. It's only four rooms but everything is brand new," said Berry. "Just the convenience, less expense. I'm originally from Mount Carmel so I wanted to stay close to home."

Officials also announced Northumberland County just received a $200,000 state grant to take care of more blighted properties.

"It will continue what we started to do which was fight blight in the municipalities here in the county," said Christiano.

Neighbor Deb Parrish has lived in Atlas for 35 years. She is proud to have the apartments on her block.

"If they would put more of these in where they have the room with other vacant lots, it would be wonderful. I think it's beautiful."