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Retirement community plan in Pa. gets green light

August 15, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Menno Haven Inc. received approval from the Franklin County Industrial Development Authority Monday to proceed with issuing up to $30 million in bonds for an expansion of its Northfield campus that includes a 53-unit apartment building and a community center.

The 11-member board unanimously approved Menno Haven's proposal to issue the bonds, which still has to be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said David Sciamanna, treasurer for the FCIDA. The vote came after a Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act hearing, he said.

"They're borrowing money, the interest of which is tax-exempt for the bondholders" and the borrowing process required a public hearing, Sciamanna said.

Northfield, which is a part of Menno Haven's Scotland Avenue complex on the north edge of the borough, now has 75 villas and five more to be built, said Wendy Cowan, Menno Haven's chief officer for marketing and public relations. The Northgate apartment building and community center are the first phase of an expansion of Northfield at the retirement community that will cost an estimated $23 million.

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The community center, Cowan said, will include a health club, swimming pool, restaurant, caf, game room and other amenities. A second phase with 86 more units is in the planning stage, she said.

"This has always been planned as part of our Northfield campus," Cowan said of the project. FCIDA gave preliminary approval for the expansion in February, she said.

"It's a big transaction and they have been working on it for years," Sciamanna said. "They're ready to go."

Cowan said the project could be completed by the winter of 2007, she said.

"I think they expect to be turning dirt in the next 10 days," said Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross, who attended the hearing. No members of the public attended to comment for or against the project, he said. Ross said the community benefits from the expansion because it is a major construction project and Menno Haven is a major employer.

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