The future of Long Crest, a roughly $18 million housing project for low- and moderate-income seniors at the Long Home campus in Lancaster, is in doubt after the cityâ€™s Historical Commission recently voted to recommend against allowing a carriage house more than a century old to be torn down to make way for it.
The Long Home propertyâ€™s owner, Presbyterian Senior Living, had previously proposed moving and remodeling the carriage house for use as a community room. That was part of an overall plan that the commission approved last year.
But once engineers looked in detail at what moving the building would involve, it turned out to be too expensive, said architect Bradley Boal of the firm Noelker and Hull Associates.
Long Crest would consist of a 64,000-square-foot building along West Walnut Street containing 52 apartments. It would incorporate the existing Long Home, which would be renovated.
Estimates suggest moving the carriage house would cost about $470,000. Building a new community room instead would cost a little over $250,000, Boal said.
The difference is about 1.2 percent of total project cost. That may not sound like much, but in this case, it would put â€śa significant financial burden on the client’s ability to move forward,â€ť Boal said at Mondayâ€™s commission meeting.
The project’s financing relies on Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency tax credits, which it received this spring, and it cannot move forward without them.
But PHFA financing isnâ€™t intended for historic restoration projects. Just accommodating the extra expense of rehabbing the Long Home was a challenge, and thereâ€™s no way the PHFA would approve more money for the carriage house, Boal said.
Commissioner Eric Berman asked how Presbyterian Senior Living could have gone so long without a better idea of the cost of moving the carriage house: â€śThat should have been addressed at the outset.â€ť
Boal said the cost estimates required engineering studies that the nonprofit couldn’t justify commissioning until it had secured the tax credits.
He said planners explored designs that would keep the carriage house in place, but concluded there was no way to make it work. Moreover, he said, a redesign now would cause the project to forfeit the tax credits.
In response to other questions, Boal conceded the $250,000 to build a community room doesnâ€™t include the cost of demolishing the carriage house. But adding that in doesnâ€™t change the ultimate outcome, he said.
The commissionâ€™s recommendation goes to City Council, which makes the final decision.