Harrisburg city council members Tuesday night approved a $10.7 million project to build 50 affordable homes in one of the most blighted areas of the city.
The project by TLC Cornerstone Renewal will build a 24-home multi-dwelling building, 26 independent townhouses, a community center and a garden near 15th and Walnut streets in Allison Hill. The buildings will be two and three stories high.
The project will cover 2.1 acres and five residential lots along the 100 block of North 15th and require the demolition of a dilapidated church and a few buildings. But the lots are largely vacant, said City Planner Geoffrey Knight, at a planning meeting last week.
The lots currently have vehicles parked on them and people sometimes illegally dump trash on them, Knight said, so the new construction project will bring immediate improvements to the area.
Tarik Casteel, president of TLC, told council members he wanted to bring more affordable housing into that area precisely because of its struggles. He said the area desperately needs investment but most developers won’t pursue projects there.
“This was one of the worst areas of the city, Casteel said, “this is why I wanted to come into this area because it was the worst. I defintely believe in Harrisburg and the people of Harrisburg.”
Casteel said his project, which could start with construction in September, would bring additional training, jobs and other development to the area. He said he planned to hire local subcontractors and workers, including ex-offenders, for the project.
The 4,500-square-foot community center will include a computer lab, laundry facilities and space for more than 11 non-profits to share office space and offer services to residents, he said.
The nonprofit CRAM (Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry) is spearheading the nonprofit support that will be available at the community center, Casteel said.
The homes must be rental-only, with income-adjusted rent prices, for at least 15 years, Casteel said, because of the low income housing tax credits being used to finance the project.
The project is expected to take 16 months of construction to complete. Once it is finished, Casteel said he hoped to complete two more affordable housing projects in Allison Hill.
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