The Steinman Foundation is pledging $1.5 million to help a nonprofit developer build 64 affordable apartments as part of a multi-use redevelopment of the one-time St. Joseph Hospital on Lancaster’s west side.
The investment, divided between grants and loans, will help HDC MidAtlantic secure other funding for a five-story, 64-unit building at 213 College Ave. with a $15.4-million price tag.
The housing would be the first part of a two-phase project.
In addition, United Disabilities Services Foundation has pledged up to $750,000 to make 12 of the apartments accessible for people who use wheelchairs or have visual, hearing or intellectual impairments. The funding will also subsidize rent for those apartment for up to 15 years.
For the other apartments, income-based rents will be as low as $200 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and no higher than $850 for two bedrooms, said Dana Hanchin, HDC president and CEO.
The units would be for people with incomes ranging from $11,000 to $45,000 a year.
The affordable housing is part of a $90-million project by Baltimore-based Washington Place Equities, which plans to convert the former hospital into 150 to 175 market-rate apartments, offices and retail. The city pushed for the affordable housing component.
Phase 2 of HDC’s plan will have about 60 units split between two sites: 913 Wheatland Ave. and the 800 block of Marietta Avenue. HDC has yet to decide if those units will be apartments, townhouses or a combination.
“We’re very fortunate to have HDC MidAtlantic in Lancaster helping us to tackle the affordable housing problem the county is facing,” said Shane Zimmerman, executive vice president and treasurer of Steinman Communications. “They really are experts in projects like this.”
Zimmerman noted that committing funds to the affordable housing piece helps the overall redevelopment project move forward. “That’s of huge importance because we don't want to see that part of the city sit dark,” he said.
Bill Kepner, president and CEO of United Disabilities Services, said 12 units doesn’t begin to meet the need for accessible and affordable units for people with special needs.
“But I think this is going to get very positive recognition that hopefully can lead to other great projects,” he said.
Tax credits needed
HDC plans to apply next month to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for $11.6 million in federal low-income housing tax credits and to the county and city housing authorities for $850,000 in federal block grants known as HOME funds.
Hanchin said the Steinman Foundation’s contribution adds to broad community support that will strengthen the application for tax credits.
“This project could not have moved forward without (the Steinman Foundation’s) commitment in support of affordable housing and the transformation of the hospital campus,” she said.
If HDC secures the tax credits through a competitive application process next summer, it expects to close on the financing in March 2022. It hopes tenants can move in by April or May 2023.
HDC would then seek tax credits in 2022 for the project’s second phase of about 60 units split between the Wheatland Avenue and Marietta Avenue sites.
Developers in Lancaster County must compete with projects across Pennsylvania for the scarce federal low-income housing tax credits. In the past 10 years, only nine projects totaling 495 new units have received tax credits here.
HDC is making a big ask in seeking tax credits for its two-phase, 120-unit project.