August 27, 2011
By MARCIE SCHELLHAMMER
Era Associate Editor
BRADOFRD, PA – Some new housing is on the horizon in the Elm Street Project Pride neighborhood of the City of Bradford.
A work session will be held at 6 p.m. today, prior to the Bradford City Council meeting at 7 p.m.. in city council chambers to discuss a planned housing development.
Sara Andrews. executive director of the Office of Economic and Community Development, explained on Monday that the OECD had requested proposals from developers willing to build housing in the area of State. Bank, Howard and North Center streets, as discussed in the city’s Master Plan.
“We’re working with Housing Visions of Syracuse. NY …. Andrews said. “We’re looking at about an eight-million-dollar investment.”
The project will include Housing Visions purchasing private homes in the area, using lots accumulated by the OECD during blight removal in the neighborhood and using some lots belonging to the Bradford Redevelopment Authority.
Andres explained the project will entail “48 new affordable housing units on vacant lots” the OECD had accumulated, and 20 garden apartments for the elderly on the big lot at the corner of Bank and North Center streets, were the Bradford Creamery building once stood.
The large brick building on Bank Street would be renovated to house eight units. Andrews said Housing Visions already has an agreement in place to acquire that property.
Twenty units would be built as single-family duplexes to be placed on lots on Howard, State and possibly North Center streets, Andrews explained.
Those will be rentals for low income residents, but plans call for a 15-year lease with a possibility for the renter to purchase the duplex.
“(Housing Visions) may work with them to buy the unit,” Andrews said. “The goal is (for the renter) to buy the entire duplex and rent out the other half
to assist (with housing costs).”
Andrews said this is a necessary project, as some of the housing in the Project Pride area is obsolete and financially beyond repair.
“The city needs some new rental housing,” she said. “we have a lot of good landlords with good units, but we have a lot that are in poor condition, too. We’ve been demolishing them. We need to start replacing them.
“I wanted to see some new housing for the elderly,” she said. “I’ve heard there’s waiting lists at both Emery Towers and the High Rise. There’s a need
for these in our community.”
And Housing Visions has a good track record, Andrews added.
“I believe (the housing) will be well done and well managed,” she said.
Andrews explained the OECD will not be doing the construction for the project. “We will be selling properties and using the money to reinvest in the project as an equity partner:’ she said, explaining the OECD’s role in the project.
“We will be assisting them with getting agreements with private owners” and with dealing with regulatory agencies. She explained. “We’re helping facilitate the project with the agencies they need to work through.”
Housing Visions will be filing the paperwork with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to secure funding for the project, Andrews said. “the application is due OCT. 12 at PHFA. They are likely to hear next spring on approval. If they get it, construction could begin sometime next summer.”
Although permission for new sewer hook-ups is hard to come by as the Bradford Sanitary Authority remains under a consent order and agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection, Andrews said she doesn’t anticipate a problem moving forward with this project.
“We will probably request this under the economic development exempt criteria,” Andrews said. Some equivalency dwelling units or sewer hookups, do exist in the project area from houses that had been removed. There’s also nine EDUs available on the Bradford Creamery lot that the OECD had applied for and been granted, in the past. Any additional EDUs needed can be applied for through the exempt criteria, she said.
Andrews said this project is an exciting step forward for the city. “We’ve seen some preliminary plans and this (looks great),” she said. More information on the project will be presented at the work session today in city council chambers.