Between the initial announcement of the Lansdale Collaborative Project in April 2011 and today, officials at Advanced Living Communities, North Penn YMCA, The PEAK Center, Manna on Main Street and North Penn Community Health Foundation have been very busy.
The groups meet on a weekly basis, and conduct weekly conference calls, all to prepare the best funding application for $17 million in low-income housing tax credits to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
"We're in the process of preparing our funding application, which is due no later than the close of business on February 15," said Advanced Living Communities CEO and President Bill Brown. "We have a very aggressive plan to have the application complete."
Brown said the full team is engaged to prepare the best 1,000-page application it can for the project.
"This application wil be reviewed very closely because of its initiative," Brown said. "No one we know of has brought forth an application of collaboration of this magnitude: Putting a YMCA, food bank, senior center and senior housing complex all on one campus."
Brown said the PHFA changed the application process to include a collaborative program.
"It's a benefit for us," Brown said. "It's moving along well."
The affordable housing portion of the application is what will make the application successful. Without it, there's no collaboration.
The application, which costs $200,000 to submit, is being submitted as a joint venture with low-income residential, a food kitchen and a senior center. Brown said in April that means they are eligible for a 30 percent boost in additional funding.
The $28-million project will assemble Manna on Main Street, the North Penn YMCA, The PEAK Center and Advanced Living Communities into one huge gateway complex at the former site of Lans-Bowl on East Main Street, next to North Penn YMCA.
Of the $28 million, $17 million is coming from all groups except the North Penn YMCA, according to Advanced Living Communities' Vice President of Operations Kim Krauter.
Advanced Living Communities owns Schwenckfeld Manor, Schwenckfeld Terrace and Derstine Run.
The YMCA will be expanding across the driveway closest to the Lans-Bowl site, adding a 8,691-square-foot family pool and reception area. A new 8,400-square-foot cgymnasium and maintenance area will be expanded off the side of the wellness center toward Hillcrest Shopping Center. The wellness center, locker rooms and program spaces will be renovated.
Manna, PEAK and Advanced Living will all be in the same building, with Advanced Living occupying the second floor of the proposed facility.
While the application is a big part of the funding, there have been a few grants and other investments put toward the project.
Advanced Living Communities has received $880,000 from Montgomery County Housing and Urban Development, Krauter said.
North Penn Community Health Foundation has already invested $150,000. The foundation also has a $1.5 million RAPC grant offered through Rep. Bob Godshall and Lansdale Borough, which was once earmarked for PEAK Center to move to a new facility on Hancock Street.
"We are looking for other funding now," said Krauter.
At present, the project has received preliminary and final land development approval from Lansdale Borough Council, under the guidance of attorney Frank Bartle.
Advanced Living Communities and its partners are not waiting until 2014 to collaborate for the betterment of the community.
Two weeks ago, The PEAK Center moved into the main corporate offices of Advanced Living Communities at Schwenckfeld Manor.
"We are working on the groups to collaborate beforehand," said Krauter.
Officials from the four entities took a trip to Baltimore, MD recently to tour a property that has a YMCA and affordable housing coexisting and operating at present.
"It works very well," Krauter said of that collaboration. "They don't collaborate as much on the programming as we're intending to do, but it worked lovely."
Krauter reiterated that shovels to ground wouldn't begin until 2014. In this project's case, when there is a $17 million gift, the closing process is cumbersome because there are a lot of requirements and compliance, Krauter said.
"There’s no way that Advanced Living would start construction before 2014," Krauter said. "It's absolutely not happening."
Advanced Living just opened up its newest apartment facility on South Line Street in Lansdale on Friday.
The most recent project prior to that — Derstine Run, located on Derstine Road in Hatfield Township — has one of four buildings complete and fully operational.
"The second building is coming out of the ground now," Brown said. "The third and fourth are in the construciton pipeline."
Krauter said buildings three and four at Derstine Run will be completed after the Lansdale Collaborative Project.
"Funding is not available for all the buildings," Brown said of Derstine Run. "It's very hard to get."
Brown said that the first building in Derstine Run, which was completed in July 2011, was filled in 40 days because of the high demand for affordable senior housing.
"There are 1,200 indications of interest and applications for 59 units at Derstine Run. There's a three-year waiting list," Brown said. "We'll never meet the demand."
In April, Brown said the latest census figures indicated Lansdale's senior population is expanding. He said there was a 1.2 percent population increase in the borough between 2000 and 2010. The 55- to 64-year-old age group grew 45 percent. There still exists a very limited affordable housing option in our area, he said.
Interested in applying for Derstine Run? Contact Krauter at 215-362-0227 or visit www.advancedlivingcommunities.org.