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Cottage Green developers choose new site

April 26, 2001

Cottage Green developers choose new site



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


The developers of a proposed senior housing project in downtown Chambersburg that sparked heated debates over the last few years have settled on a new site for the project.

Glenn Brooks, senior vice president of Leon Weiner and Associates, told the Chambersburg Borough Council Wednesday they are planning to build the Cottage Green, formerly King's Grant, on 5.6 acres on Norland Avenue.

The 52-unit development would include 40 one-bedroom single floor cottages and 12 two-bedroom units in the north end of town on a tract where the borough is directing new residential and commercial development.

The units are meant to provide affordable housing to seniors with an annual income of between $13,000 and $22,000, Brooks said.

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The original plans called for a 52-unit apartment complex in the borough-owned Shopper's Lot at Black Avenue and West Queen Street.

After initial approval of the project in 1998, council members split on the proposal because it would have eliminated 75 metered-parking spots in one of the busiest downtown lots. Mayor Robert Morris cast several tie-breaking votes in favor of the project in the last few years, citing fears of litigation.

The project failed to move forward when the developers missed an August deadline to receive $3 million in state tax credits.

The council unanimously backed the new proposal Wednesday by approving a motion to reallocate Community Development Block Grant money it previously gave to King's Grant to Cottage Green.

The reallocation of $100,000 is subject to the developer's receipt of state tax credits, and council left open the option for additional grant money in 2002, subject to the availability of grant funds.

As part of a gentleman's agreement, the council agreed in 1999 to allocate $150,000 of CDBG funds to the project in three installments.

Brooks said he needed the council's support so that he could submit an application to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for grants by the May 1 deadline.

"Local support and local money would make a difference in getting the funding," he said.

Brooks said Weiner and Associates, a Wilmington, Del.,-based developer, has already spent $300,000 on the project, and without the CDBG funds they probably would not continue.

"I'm not asking you to reimburse me or feel sorry for me. I'm asking you to allocate money so this project can move forward," he said.

Councilman Scott Thomas made it clear he is not looking for any gentleman's agreement on the remaining $50,000 installment the developers will ask for in 2002.

"That $50,000 will not be a lock. A lot of people are competing for it," Thomas said.

The project would cost about $4.4 million, and would be partially funded by the borough grants and a $1.5 million low-interest loan from PHFA.

Weiner and Associates won't hear until September if the PHFA grant is approved and will need to exercise its option on the land by November, Brooks said.

"I think it would be a nice addition with the other facilities" on Norland Avenue, including the Summit Health Center, said Councilman Tom Newcomer.

Brooks said he looked at several other sites in Chambersburg, but the Norland Avenue property is the only one that fit the criteria for fitting 52 units with existing infrastructure.

The borough and the developers will now terminate a 60-year lease on the Shopper's Lot.

Brooks said Weiner and Associates and GS & G Properties, which owns the Norland Avenue land, went into an agreement on the property Friday night.

Cottage Green would be on the southwest corner of Norland Avenue, near the future Phoenix Drive, in front of St. Paul United Methodist Church.

The one-bedroom units would rent for $290 to $312 a month, and the two-bedroom units would rent for $381 a month, Brooks said.

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