Lancaster Council hears rezoning request in St. Joseph’s Hospital project | Regional

When: Lancaster City Council meeting, Nov. 2. What happened: Developers of the affordable housing portion…

When: Lancaster City Council meeting, Nov. 2.

What happened: Developers of the affordable housing portion of the project to redevelop the former St. Joseph’s Hospital on College Avenue are asking City Council to fast-track the rezoning of a parcel across the street from the former hospital. Representatives from HDC Mid-Atlantic told council during a committee meeting the developer needs the property rezoned to allow new multifamily housing in order to apply for tax credits needed to make the project financially possible.

Background: Council approved rezoning the former hospital in September. Washington Place Equities plans to convert the old part of the hospital into 150 to 175 market rate apartments while turning the new wing into 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of office space. It also plans to build about 30 townhomes in the parking lot behind the old hospital. As part of a deal negotiated between UPMC, which closed the facility in February 2019, and the city, UPMC is donating this, and another nearby parcel, to be used for affordable housing.

Why it matters: The first phase of the affordable housing part of the project will include 40 to 60 units, depending on the outcome of negotiations regarding a nearby parking structure. Detailed plans won’t be completed until after the zoning change is secured. To keep rents between $200 and $800 per month, HDC needs to obtain federal tax credits to help finance the project. The deadline for those highly competitive awards is early next year. Zoning approval is a threshold requirement to submit an application for the program. If not approved in next year’s round of funding, the project would have to be put on hold for a year to await approval the following year.

Quotable: “It’s the first phase, or first step, to get the affordable housing in place on College Avenue,” said Chris Delfs, the city’s director of community planning and economic development.

What is next: The Lancaster County Planning Commission is expected to issue its advisory recommendation on Nov. 10. Council agreed to place a first reading of the proposed amendment on the agenda for its meeting that same evening. Council plans to hold a public hearing at its Nov. 24 meeting, with a vote likely to follow.

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