Home Care: Project Rehab is improving whole neighborhoods in University City, one house at a time

University City District (UCD) executive director Matt Bergheiser is only half joking when he says he’s not interested in sharing Ryan Spak. A Philadelphia native, Spak was busy building his construction management firm with his wife when UCD recruited him in 2011 to head a new effort called Project Rehab.

Spak, 32, has since gained a reputation for his ability to execute Project Rehab’s mission of collaborating with city agencies, banks and owners of blighted properties to revive left-for-dead sections of University City. Working roughly 20 hours a week for UCD, the Temple grad is having a noticeable impact on the area. “The project has positively affected almost 21 properties,” says Spak. “We’ve added $7 million in market value in terms of real estate.”

Bergheiser cites Spak’s knowledge of the real estate industry, his intuition and his aggressiveness as reasons he was picked for the Project Rehab job. But just as important is his ability to connect with owners of properties mired in legal and financial limbo and bring them back into the dialogue. “A lot these properties get stuck like this for various reasons,” says Bergheiser, “and Ryan’s an expert at getting them unstuck.”

For more on Spak and Project Rehab, visit universitycity.org/project-rehab.

Story by Brian Rademakers