A local nonprofit hopes to break ground by the end of the year on infrastructure for its long-planned 300-unit residential project on the Sunnyside peninsula in southeast Lancaster.
Community Basics has been pursuing the idea since 2001. Last week, the city’s Planning Commission granted conditional approval of the land development plan for the first phase.
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.
“It's exciting,” Community Basics' executive director Lisa Greener said.
Community Basics plans to build 150 apartments and 150 homes for sale to owner-occupants on about 75 acres of the peninsula. Phase 1 comprises 170 units on 45 acres, or just over half the total.
The idea is to cater to a variety of income levels with a broad mix of housing types and price points.
“I think that makes it unique,” Greener said.
The organization intends to seek federal low-income housing tax credits in order to build 75 apartments as part of phase 1, Greener said. Most of the units, 84%, will meet federal affordability criteria; the remainder will be market rate.
She declined to provide a project cost.
Randy Patterson, who stepped down this week as Lancaster's director of economic development and neighborhood revitalization, said the project can be expected to have a positive effect on the city's increasingly tight housing and rental markets.
Getting Sunnyside to this point has taken many years.
The peninsula is “a rather unique piece of land” that presents a number of development challenges, Patterson said, so things took time.
There's been “a lot of back and forth” with government officials, Greener said.
With the Planning Commission’s approval secured, the next step is to obtain financing, she said.
Work could start by the end of the year on streets and utilities. No date has been set for starting on the homes themselves, but once groundbreaking for them takes place, phase 1 should take about three years, Greener said.
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.
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, city senior planner Douglas Smith said. That was followed by the finalized plan that the commission acted on last week.
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 has been taken up with resolving various planning and engineering issues and securing approvals, Patterson and Greener said.