As first project nears an end, Socrates Developers looking for more opportunities in Bristol

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Matt Schickling / Times photo – Phil Cacossa, owner of Scorates Developers, inside his rehabbed home in Bristol Borough.

After months of searching, Phil Cacossa may have finally found a match for his restored home in Bristol Borough.

The renovations, finished toward the end of last summer, left the house in pristine selling condition with upgrades in almost every facet of the property.

The floors are redone, the walls insulated and painted, the heating and cooling system upgraded and the stairway moved from right down the center of the house to the left side, giving it that in-vogue “open concept” look. The price tag is even lower than the appraised value.

There’s been no shortage of candidates, so what’s been taking so long?

It may be that Cacossa has been searching for a particular kind of homebuyer — a first-timer. That concept is part of his mission with Socrates Developers, his company started last spring as an avenue for low-income people to become homeowners.

The Doylestown resident is a longtime architect looking to use his skills an outlet to help revitalize communities in Bucks County.

The idea is to restore blighted homes in up-and-coming communities, find candidates who fit the criteria, and bring these properties back to the community. He started with this property on New Brook Street in Bristol Borough.

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Photo: Phil Cacossa – A view of what the home looked like before the rehab.

According to neighbors, before Cacossa showed up, the house was abandoned for four years and had fallen into disrepair. Where others saw blight, Cacossa saw a chance to give someone an opportunity.

He partnered with the Bucks County Opportunity Council to find candidates. The first two seemed like possibilities, but both fell through.

“What we’re finding difficult is that a lot of the low-income loan programs require the homebuyers to have more credit and better credit than they typically will have,” Cacossa said. “That’s just the nature of the beast. The candidates don’t typically have 710 FICO scores.”

The latest candidate is a woman who graduated through the Bucks Opportunity Council last fall. She’s looking to move into the home with her 5-year-old son, but there have been some roadblocks for her, too.

Cacossa said that Penn Community Bank could not secure a mortgage for her. So now they’re working with Fulton Bank, hoping she can get approved and Cacossa can move onto his next project.

“They seem to have more products that are geared toward lower income in community redevelopment areas,” he said. “They have other ways of proving credit other than the traditional FICO scores.”

With the house sold, Cacossa would be able to move onto more projects. He’s been itching to do more homes, and get more people on track toward ownership. He’s seeking prospective fundraising opportunities, and working with his attorney toward the path of establishing Socrates Developers as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

With those objectives in mind, he’s eyeing Bristol Borough for his next endeavor when this one comes to fruition. It’s a walkable community teeming with cultural outlets and access to the city, all valuable qualities to someone looking to get a fresh start.

“The need is there. Look at this place when we bought it,” he said. “If you could take some of those homes that are in bad need of repair, and reintroduce them into the community as viable houses, that helps so much.” ••

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