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Plans dropped for 300-unit residential project on Sunnyside peninsula in Lancaster

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A nonprofit’s nearly 20-year effort to develop a largely vacant Lancaster city peninsula formed by the Conestoga River has come to an unsuccessful end.

Just over a month after winning a key approval for a long-planned 300-unit residential development on the Sunnyside peninsula in southeast Lancaster, Community Basics is throwing in the towel.

In a statement released Friday afternoon Community Basics executive director Lisa Greener said the nonprofit “has determined the project’s remaining hurdles are insurmountable and the project is unable to come to fruition.”

The nonprofit, which works to provide affordable housing in Lancaster County, had been trying since 2001 to build a mix of single-family homes, duplexes and apartments on the 75-acre peninsula.

Following the city planning commission approval last month, Community Basics said it hoped to break ground by the end of the year on 150 apartments and 150 homes that would have been for sale to owner-occupants.

Conditional approvals signify that a project passes muster overall and that it can proceed once a list of remaining issues, usually technical in nature, is resolved with city staff.

Greener did not respond to a message left Friday afternoon seeking comment.

Funding hadn’t been secured but Community Basics had said it planned to seek federal low-income housing tax credits to build 75 apartments in the development’s first phase.

In Friday’s press release from Community Basics, Lancaster city mayor Danene Sorace said she appreciated the nonprofit’s commitment to the project and respected its decision given the last hurdles.

“At this time, the City intends to hit pause and reassess the future of Sunnyside given that the City will continue to retain ownership,” Sorace said.


History of the plan

When Sunnyside was first proposed, Lancaster County owned the land where it would go. In 2009 the county approved the transfer of its property to Lancaster city, excluding the Youth Intervention Center site which sits just across a bridge to the peninsula from Broad Street.

The next year, the city and Community Basics signed an agreement to proceed with development.

In 2014, the commission approved a tentative land development plan with conditions. Community Basics obtained several extensions before meeting the conditions in 2018, which was followed by the finalized plan approved last month.

In 2015, a small land swap was negotiated to facilitate the project. The county agreed to exchange just over 1 acre of land southwest of the Youth Intervention Center for 2.6 acres to its northeast.

The interval since then had been taken up with resolving various planning and engineering issues and securing approvals.

(Staff writer Tim Stuhldreher contributed to this report.)