Affordable Seniors Housing Proposed for Historic African American Block of Harrisburg
A new affordable housing initiative may soon arrive in Harrisburg.
At a community meeting Monday night, developers shared plans for affordable housing development for seniors around the corner of N. 6e and Herr streets.
The nearly $ 15 million “Bethel Village” would be the largest phase of the “Jackson Square” project to restore dilapidated buildings linked to African-American history on N. 6e Street, said Ryan Sanders, co-owner of Harrisburg-based RB Development, the main developer involved in the project.
“I’m really excited about the next level of development here,” said Sanders, during a community meeting at the neighboring Good Brotha’s Book Cafe.
Along with RB Development, Paladin Development, a branch of the Harrisburg Housing Authority, Gardner Capital Development and Bethel AME Church are project partners.
The proposed four-storey, nearly 45,000 square foot building would be available to low-income seniors 62 and over. It would provide one and two bedroom rental units that range in price from $ 300 to $ 1,000 per month. Typically, residents would pay about 30% of their income in rent, explained Ava Goldman of Gardner Capital, who specializes in providing affordable housing for seniors. They also plan to have units designated for visually impaired and hearing impaired residents.
Previously, Sanders had offered a mixed-use residential and commercial complex at market rates for the site.
According to Goldman, there would be four on-site parking spaces for the Bethel Village complex. They are hoping that on-street parking will complement the small number of spaces on-site, and they also don’t expect many of their residents to have cars, she said.
The proposed project site is on the land where the historic Bethel AME Church stood before it was burned down in 1995. The lot currently contains paved parking and grassed areas. Adjacent to the property is the land where the historic Jackson Hotel building once stood, before partially collapsing and demolishing in January of this year.
Bethel Village developers are under contract with Bethel AME, which owns about a third of the proposed acre construction site, and the owners of the connected lots.
Sanders hopes that through the Bethel Village project, including in the proposed area of Jackson Square along N. 6th Street, the block’s African-American history will be restored.
According to Sanders, much of the funding has already been secured through sources such as the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Harrisburg Housing Authority and Bethel AME Church, among others.
At the meeting, resident Ted Hanson, who lives near the proposed construction site, expressed concern about parking, saying what they had planned would not be enough.
“I think parking is a real problem,” he said. “At least it will be for people like me who live in this neighborhood. “
Goldman said that because they face financial constraints to provide affordable housing, they couldn’t afford to create more parking spaces.
Another Harrisburg resident, Eileen Norman, was not concerned about the parking situation, but expressed support for the project.
“I’m more concerned that our residents have a roof over their heads that is secure and that they can live in,” she said.
The developers are currently working with the Harrisburg Architectural Review Board (HARB) to ensure the building’s design matches other properties in the neighborhood. Then they should present their plans to the city’s zoning hearing board and then to city council.
If all goes well, Goldman said they hope to lead the way by October of this year.
“We believe this affordable 49-unit option will bring a lot to the community,” said Sanders.
The proposed site of the village of Bethel is located at 1010 N. 6e St. For more information visit RB Développement website.
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