Morning Sun Senior Lofts housing project in East Vandergrift delayed

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A $13 million revitalization project involving the redevelopment of the former East Vandergrift Elementary School is on hold.

East Vandergrift officials said Morning Sun Senior Lofts, an affordable loft-style seniors’ residence project on McKinley Avenue, was denied about $12 million in tax credits last November by the Pennsylvania Finance Housing Agency.

“The town hall was disappointed. But we are reaching out to our elected officials again and hope they can help us,” East Vandergrift Council President Christopher Zelonka said.

Zelonka said he was told by planners that the project could take up to three years.

Borough officials were hoping for a closure this year.

“We are still very excited about the project and hope to see it completed,” Zelonka said.

State Senator Jim Brewster and State Representative Jason Silvas participated in the initial nomination process.

William Kerr, former superintendent of the Apollo-Ridge and Norwin school districts, offered his consulting services at no cost to the borough.

Kerr served as principal for two years at the school before it closed in 1989. He said patience was needed with projects of this magnitude.

“You never give up when it comes to competitive grants and state or federal funding,” Kerr said. “There is no doubt that the community supports him. It’s a process.

East Vandergrift Councilman Jeremy Manners said feedback from borough residents was enthusiastic.

“The community has supported this project and has done so since day one. There’s so much excitement to see it grow,” said Manners, who recalled the building was last used as a church before moving on. To be condemned.

Built in the 1930s, the school once served students in kindergarten through grade 6.

The building is deteriorating and is considered by some residents to be an eyesore. In 2020, borough officials circulated a petition among the borough’s 600 residents, asking for signatures in support of the project.

This petition was attached to the initial application for the project. Kerr said plans are underway to bolster the app with additional data.

Officials plan to resubmit the application in late spring.

MVAH Partners of Ohio, which specializes in affordable housing development nationwide, is a project partner.

The Morning Sun Senior Lofts project will serve residents 62 and older whose incomes range from 20% to 60% of the area’s average income.

The average household income in the Vandergrift area is $42,261, according to data provided by the US Census.

Proposed facilities for the building include parking, fitness center, outdoor seating, kitchenette, service area and laundry.

When complete, the building will offer 42 one- and two-bedroom residences.

The condemned building is owned by the Westmoreland County Land Bank.

In a letter to the editor published July 6 in the Tribune-Review, Zelonka and councilor Karen Virostek highlighted the need for affordable, quality senior housing.

“Morning Sun Senior Lofts will preserve and reuse the former East Vandergrift Elementary School, which is a historic building and will provide much needed programs and services for seniors,” they wrote.

Dennis Cestra Jr., president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services in Pennsylvania, said there is a major need for more than 55 senior care developments and communities in the Pittsburgh area, but supply is lagging. relative to demand.

Citing a large baby boomer generation, Cestra said a larger group of aging people has led to increased housing needs.

“In the United States, baby boomers aren’t leaving their homes because their housing options are limited and building new homes can’t do much,” Cestra said.

Cestra said lifestyle considerations such as transportation, meals, fitness, skilled nursing and 24-hour care are all amenities that are taken into account when it comes to new developments in housing for the elderly.

Joyce Hanz is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Joyce at 724-226-7725, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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