It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
By September of 2013, Lansdale area citizens – especially senior citizens – could begin to see the construction of a collaboration of four major entities in town on the site of the former Lans-Bowl property.
With the leadership of the North Penn Community Health Foundation, the Lansdale Collaboration Project is underway.
The $28-million project will assemble , the , and (Schwenkfeld Manor, Derstine Run) into one huge gateway complex.
The announcement was made at a special event Friday morning at the North Penn YMCA.
According to architect George Marks, the project has a hard cost estimate of $24.8 million, at $159 a square foot.
There are plans to have a 60-unit apartment complex located above the new locations for Manna and The PEAK Center.
The YMCA owns the former Lans-Bowl property adjacent to its building on East Main Street.
The YMCA will be expanding across the driveway closest to the Lans-Bowl site, adding a 8,691-square-foot family pool and reception area. A new 8,400-square-foot cgymnasium and maintenance area will be expanded off the side of the wellness center toward Hillcrest Shopping Center. The wellness center, locker rooms and program spaces will be renovated.
Should the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency approve $18 million in low-income tax credits being applied for by North Penn Community Health Foundation, Manna, PEAK and Advanced Living will be located across the way from the expanded YMCA. An atrium will connect both sections.
The tax credit application
Russell Johnson, CEO of North Penn Community Health Foundation, said the idea of assembling the four entities under one roof began 18 months ago.
Johnson said a BoomerANG Project in 2006 showed explosive growth in the 55- to 64-year-old population in Montgomery County between 2005 and 2008 and into the next decade.
“Fifty percent of the Montgomery County population will be over 50 by 2020,” Johnson said. “Long waiting lists for affordable housing already exists. Boomers have a different way of thinking about how to approach 50-plus years in an older adult generation.”
Johnson said the collaborative project leverages the core competencies of four high-respected, mission-driven businesses.
“This public-private venture has been leveraged thus far by financing,” Johnson said.
He said $150,000 has already been invested in the project by the Community Health Foundation.
Johnson said the tax credit application will be put in soon for the March 2013 fund cycle.
“We have engaged urban partners for the alignment of the project with the comprehensive revitalization plan of Lansdale Borough,” Johnson said. “Land development and zoning is officially underway with the borough.”
Johnson said that, in addition to the tax credit, the foundation has a $1.5 million RAPC grant offered through Rep. Bob Godshall and Lansdale Borough. According to Lansdale councilman Jack Hansen, that money was earmarked for PEAK to move to a location on Hancock Street. Johnson said the foundation has every indication to use that money for this project.
Bill Brown, of Advanced Living Communities, said latest census figures indicate Lansdale’s senior population is expanding.
He said there was a 1.2 percent population increase in the borough between 2000 and 2010. The 55- to 64-year-old age group grew 45 percent.
He said there still exists a very limited affordable housing option in our area.
“All these needs will be met by partners of the collaboration,” he said.
Brown said the newest buildings at Derstine Run were filled in 40 days because of the demand. Waiting lists are five years for people to get into an Advanced Living community.
“This project is the next step toward community revitalization,” Brown said.
Brian Hudson, executive director of the PHFA, congratulated all agencies on the project. He said it is a difficult process to utilize all resources to all those in need.
“This is a good project to show to my peers in D.C. and lobby for more credits,” Hudson said.
He said the PHFA will accept applications in October and decide in April 2013. Last year, out of 96 applications, 32 were awarded.
“I’ll keep an eye on it for you as we move through the process,” Hudson said.
Johnson said that, once the tax credits are approved, the project would begin construction by Fall 2013.
“When Bill Brown calls about the tax credit, in six months you will see the project rise out of the ground,” Johnson said. “The YMCA development will move forward with everything else ready to connect as soon as the tax credits come.”
Johnson said the foundation is highly optimistic that the credits will be approved by PHFA.
“If we don’t make it in the first year, we’ll be back in subsequent years,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the foundation is the glue that holds the entire project together.
“We were the spark that kindled this project,” Johnson said.
Brown was also optimistic at the tax credits being accepted by PHFA. The application, which costs $200,000 to submit, is being submitted as a joint venture with low-income residential, a food kitchen and a senior center. Brown said that means they are eligible for a 30 percent boost in additional funding.
“This is a win-win for everybody,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of push behind it.”