Joan Dawson McConnon remembers the building down the street.
“Well, 1515 Fairmount was a building we bought down the street in 1990 and we spent five years in a legal battle trying to build 48 housing units there,” said McConnon, who co-founded Project HOME along with Sister Mary Scullion 25 years ago on Tuesday.
And on the group’s anniversary, Project HOME — Housing, Opportunities for employment, Medical care and Education — celebrated its 25th anniversary with the grand opening of the JBJ Soul Homes at 1415 Fairmount, just down the street from the old building in Francisville.
“And what is really wonderful with this project down the street is that one of the group’s that really opposed us 25 years ago came out in support of our project,” she said.
The 55-unit apartment building, which will house low-income and formerly homeless residents, sits between 15th and Broad streets. It will also feature 1,200-square-feet of retail space to help spurn economic development.
New Jersey’s own Jon Bon Jovi, and his Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, helped by contributing the largest private donation that helped get the project built.
Bon Jovi said at a ceremony on Tuesday there was only one reason he agreed to do the project.
“I only agreed to this for Sister Mary and Joan, because anyone who knows them — who can say no to the dynamic duo?” he said.
Project HOME, which has spawned more than 600 housing units, has worked to help educate and rehabilitate the large homeless population in the city.
And in Francisville, McConnon said, it was rewarding to preserve a place for the needy in an area that is quickly gentrifying, “just in the nick of time,” she said.
Bon Jovi proposed a challenge to the people who will inhabit the building.
“Make those who came together to provide these walls proud,” he said, “by giving back, by paying it forward.”
“By proving to everyone,” he added, “that a handout is not a hand up.”
Bon Jovi, whose Soul Foundation partnered with the Middleton Partnership to provide the lead donation for the project, asked the residents to aid in the effort to end homelessness with outreach efforts, volunteerism and vocal support.
“We support a system that allows disadvantaged youths — both men and women — to reach their higher potential,” he said.
After thanking the crowd, he called Tuesday “a shining light of day in Philadelphia.”
Cost of the complex: $16 million
The four-story, 75,000-sq ft. building is LEED-cerified.
It contains a total of 55 apartments.
The apartment complex was built near the Fairmount Broad Street Line stop for easy access to transit and for opportunities for business partnerships.