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Senior housing plan approved

March 26, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- An Ohio developer hopes to breathe new life into the Southgate Shopping Center by unpaving half of its parking lot and putting up a senior housing complex.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Phil Wolgemuth said the Chambersburg Borough Council on Monday approved the land development plan of Cleveland-based Pirhl Developers to build a senior housing complex across from the shopping center.

The plan will replace the old Sherwin-Williams store and parking lot on Washington Street with a 32-unit senior apartment building and almost an acre of open space. The second phase of the plan will give the shopping center a face-lift to match the new apartments.

Despite already being home to three housing complexes exclusively for seniors, Chambersburg needs more options for its aging population, Wolgemuth said.

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A study conducted by Pirhl backed up his claim, he said. The study found a need for senior housing with easy access to downtown amenities.

Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., credits the Elm Street Community Project for opening the door to the housing complex.

"Having the housing development in the Elm Street Neighborhood reinforced the applications for the developer to get funding," he said.

According to the plan approved Monday, the apartments will not be the "high-rise nursing homes" that Steve Niebler, director of the Adams County (Pa.) Office for Aging, criticized the borough for in February.

Rather, the complex will be a two-story building with a large front yard of open space, Wolgemuth said.

While the developer hopes to break ground on the apartments this summer, Wolgemuth said the borough was not always confident in the project.

"There was some skepticism back in 2007 that the developer would not actually upgrade the shopping center," he said. "That was put to rest with an improvement agreement."

Pirhl, along with Paran Management, which oversees the shopping center, agreed in writing to fund the shopping center upgrade.

The apartments will be subsidized through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency (PHFA). It will be managed by the Interfaith Housing Alliance of Frederick, Md.

Chambersburg Senior Housing LP and the Interfaith Housing Alliance, in partnership with Paran Management and Pirhl Developers, will develop the entire plan.

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