West Turner Residences shows how communities can bring together health care and affordable housing to meet the needs of their elderly residents.
The unique 61-unit development was created by a partnership of Pennrose Properties, an experienced affordable housing developer, and Sacred Heart Hospital (now St. Luke’s Hospital) in Allentown, Pa.
The team built a development that provides one- and two-bedroom homes for seniors earning no more than 20%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income. In addition, the first floor of the building has approximately 6,000 square feet of space, which the hospital plans to use for geriatric, physical therapy, and other senior-focused medical programs. These services will be available to both building residents and others in the community.
The health center will allow seniors to receive medical attention without going to the hospital. However, if they need to visit St. Luke’s, they can board a shuttle or take a new pedestrian path that the team built between West Turner Residences and the neighboring hospital.
For the hospital, the housing development is an opportunity to serve more people in the community. It was also a meaningful way to revitalize a blighted block and improve the neighborhood. To build West Turner Residences, the team acquired close to 45 parcels from absentee landlords and others through private purchases and eminent domain, according to Mark H. Dambly, president of Pennrose.
West Turner Residences is the overall winner in Affordable Housing Finance’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards for the nation’s top developments. Magazine and newsletter subscribers also voted the project as the best senior housing development.
“Our experience has confirmed what we all know: There are direct linkages between housing quality and wellness,” says Dambly. “Adding the proximity of health-care services of any kind to the equation delivers meaningful benefit to residents. It’s a great formula that benefits health-care providers and the neighborhoods surrounding their assets simultaneously. You can’t do much better in delivering redevelopment impact. And, that’s why we’re so enthusiastic about West Turner Residences and projects like it. We hope to do more.”
Formerly known as Sacred Heart Residences, the development is also innovative in its design. It’s one of the first developments in Pennsylvania designed to meet Passive House standards, rigorous criteria for energy efficiency that results in buildings that require little energy for heating and cooling. This keeps utility costs low and makes units more affordable to residents.
“Nearly all of our residents moved from somewhere else in the city of Allentown and from housing that either no longer met the changing needs of a senior or was becoming a cost burden to them,” Dambly says. “West Turner Residences gives residents a place to live in the company of their peers with features, amenities, and services specifically tailored to seniors.”
The $16.9 million project leveraged approximately $12 million in low-income housing tax credits syndicated by Hudson Housing Capital. JPMorgan Chase provided permanent and bridge loans. Other partners include Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, American Bank, the city of Allentown, Allentown Housing Authority, and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
This year’s 14th annual Readers’ Choice Awards competition drew 153 entries, from which 36 finalists were selected. Newsletter and magazine subscribers then voted for the winners in each category plus an overall winner. An Editors’ Choice winner was also selected.
The other winners are:
· Family: Mercy Othello Plaza in Seattle by Mercy Housing Northwest
· Green: Hillcrest Residences in Pittsburgh by The Community Builders
· Historic Rehab: Bell Artspace Campus in New Orleans by Artspace Projects and Providence Community Housing
· Mixed-Use: Sibley Square in Rochester, N.Y., by WinnCompanies
· Preservation: Portner Flats in Washington, D.C., by Jonathan Rose Cos. and Somerset Development Co.
· Public Housing Redevelopment: Renaissance Square in San Juan, Puerto Rico, by McCormack Baron Salazar
· Rural: Proctor’s Landing in Lawrence County, Ohio, by PIRHL and Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization
· Special-Needs: Sheakley Center for Youth in Cincinnati by Model Group and Lighthouse Youth & Family Services
· Urban: Woodlawn Station in Chicago by Preservation of Affordable Housing
· Editors’ Choice: The Residences at Career Gateway in Columbus, Ohio, by The NRP Group and Community Development for All People
The winners will be recognized at AHF Live: The 2018 Affordable Housing Developers Summit, Nov. 12-14, in Chicago.