A West Ward senior citizen center plans to add 104 new units in two new buildings for low-to-middle income residents, officials said Thursday.
The Easton Home, on the 1000 block of Northampton St., has purchased property to the east and west of its current location, where it will construct the new apartments in two phases over the next few years.
The first phase will include 49 units, the second will have 55, all one and two bedroom apartments on four floors. To qualify, residents would need to earn 60 percent or less than the city's median income. There are currently 54 units in the building, which is owned by the Presbyterian Senior Living company.
In all, the project would bring 150 new residents to the city, most of them mobile, active people who'd take part in the day-to-day life of Easton, Mayor Sal Panto said.
Speaking at a news conference at the Easton Home Thursday afternoon, Panto praised the organization, which has been in the city since 1892.
"They're good neighbors. They've been good neighbors for over 100 years now," he said, adding that the home had clearly studied the city's code when designing the expansion.
"This was exactly the type of development we try to strive for every time we meet with the developer of a major project," Panto said.
It's not clear when the construction will actually take place, because the company must first apply for tax credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. The state typically approves those applications in March or April, said Steve Proctor, CEO of Presbyterian Senior Living.
"A year from now, we could be in the middle of construction," he said, but acknowledged that it could take longer.
Proctor said the expansion could create about a dozen new jobs, depending on the types of services required.
Esther Guzman, of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, said she thinks the expansion could attract a number of the neighborhood's older residents. It could also serve as an alternative to the city's Neston Heights development, which replaced the Delaware Terrace housing project.
"A lot of people who came from Delaware Terrace to the West Ward don't want to leave," Guzman said.
The fact that her organization has a community garden across the street, she added, might make that transition even easier.