Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Phoenixville Moving Toward More Senior Housing

Photos by Evan Brandt
This artist's rendering of the newly approved Barclay Gardens project shows it is not quite as high as Sacred Heart Church next door to the Church Street project.

Two projects that would cumulatively add 175 affordable senior housing units to Phoenixville's housing stock moved forward Tuesday night as the result of two votes by borough council.

Both projects are made possible by property swaps with the borough and both reflect council's focus on providing more affordable senior housing in Phoenixville according to Borough Manager E. Jean Krack.

The larger and more advanced project is called Barclay Gardens and is located on the site of the former borough hall at Church and Dean streets.

It will consist of 125 apartments for people 55 and older who will pay a one-time $295,000 entry fee and rent of $500 to $600 per month.

The second project is still in the concept phase and is proposed by The Hankin Group. It would construct another 50 affordable senior housing units at 115 Buchanan Place, the site of the former borough public works garage, near the intersection with Bridge Street.

The public works department moved into a new garage earlier this year.

In a 5-2 vote last night, council agreed to a development agreement which gives the Hankin Group enough control of the property to begin to arrange financing and draw up plans. This project is in the very early stages.

According to an announcement of the borough web site, "the developer is asking the Borough to
Barclay Gardens will have two floors of parking on the bottom
and five floors of residential units, making it 90 feet tall.
contribute the land. The land transaction would be through a PHFA Deed Restricted - 35 year delayed payment arrangement to the Borough. PHFA is the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Authority which provides funding to such projects utilizing tax credits."

The motion passed 5-2 with Jeremy Dalton and Council President James Kovaleski voting no. 

Although Dalton was silent on the reason for his vote, Kovaleski said he did not believe it is fiscally responsible to give away such a valuable asset as a .87 parcel to a private developer.

"Later in year, council will consider floating a bond to pay for new civic center, that will likely raise  taxes, so it is not fiscally responsible to give away this asset even if it ends up being non-profit," Kovaleski said.

While the Buchanan Street project may be in its formative stages, Barclay Place is anything but and  council's 5-1-1 vote granted final site plan approval Tuesday night.

The site plan shows the open end of the building
facing Hall Street.
Councilwoman Catherine Doherty voted no and Kovaleski, whose firm represents the developers, abstained due to conflict of interest.

The project will be shaped like a U with the open end facing Hall Street with a gazebo and community garden in the central green space.

Although the borough ordinance only requires 74 parking spaces, the project will have 125 and some may be made available to residents of the block, where parking is already very tight.

Although council member Richard Kirkner and Edwin Soto both expressed concern about the building's 90--foot average height when the average home height in the neighborhood is 25-feet.

Calling it a "sun hog," Kirner said "this will have a massive impact on the quality of life for the people who live in that neighborhood, on Hall Street. This is a tough one. It's a great use for the property, but if I were one of those people living in a home on Hall Street, I would not be happy."

Each apartment unit will have a balcony, developers said.
The developer said the shadow from the building will actually fall on Church Street.

Borough Solicitor Charles Garner said the building complies with Phoenixville's zoning code.

Doherty said she has concerns during construction about the ability of the Phoenixville Fire Department, which is located on Church Street, to be able to get to where it needs to go in case of a fire. 

At her insistence, conditions laid out by the borough's fire chief were included in council's approval.

Kirkner also expressed concern about the difficulties of construction at the site, with no place to store materials. "We're not used to giant cranes in Phoenixville," he said.

The developers acknowledged construction would be challenging and agreed to Garner's suggestion that a construction plan and schedule be provided to the borough prior to any work getting started.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting


  1. I enjoyed reading your article :) PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from Regal Mobility.

  2. Hi!

    What a great article. We definitely appreciate finding other like-minded content creators in the space.

    Please continue to write high-quality articles on the needs of seniors.


    Best Wishes, from Scooters 'N Chairs