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Pa. senior facility gets conditional approval

A facility to serve elderly Pennsylvanians has been in the works for six years, and a city zoning board has given permission, yet again, for the plan to proceed through the approval process.

Since 2006, developers have intended to build an adult day care center and a senior residence in the 1200 block of Gordon Street in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The city's Zoning Hearing Board approved and then extended its approval before it finally expired.

Now, a new developer has come before the board, seeking to build 100 residential units for seniors as well as an adjacent day care center. The day care could accommodate about 70 senior citizens on a daily basis. Additionally, people 62 and older or the disabled could occupy the one-bedroom, 700-square-foot apartments.

The zoning board gave conditional approval to the project, which still needs financing. The development group intends to apply to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for the funds, and if approved, construction could launch by the end of next year and take a year to 18 months to finish.

The original proposal called for 114 units, and a project engineer said the new site plan better fits the neighborhood. For instance, the new architectural scheme calls for the building façade to sit closer to the street to fit the urban characteristic of the area.

Because the deadline to apply for the funding is just weeks away, the board voted to allow the project to go forward, but it will require further study of the use of the day facility. In addition, the city planning commission must review the site plans.

City officials and developers working together cooperatively and in a straightforward manner is the best way for developments to proceed. With both sides understanding the other, and the developer understanding the parameters of the conditional approval, the building process should go smoothly.

Source: The Morning Call, "Senior housing proposed for long-vacant Allentown lot," Emily Opilo, Oct. 1, 2012

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