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Workforce Housing, Office Space Proposed for New Ferguson Township Building

by on January 21, 2020 5:21 PM

A proposed mixed-use building that would include office space and affordable housing apartment units took a step forward last week with a recommendation for approval by Ferguson Township Planning Commission.

State College-based HFL Corporation submitted a land development plan to the township in September for a three-story building at 114 W. Cherry Ave.

The new building would have 9,954 square feet of space on the first floor which will be used as HFL offices, said John Sepp, of PennTerra Engineering. The second and third floors will have a total of 19,714 square feet with 18 apartment units — a mix of one, two and three bedrooms —all designated as workforce, or affordable housing. The basement area will be 10,008 square feet with residential facilities including a storage area, library, fitness area and maintenance area.

HFL will receive tax credits for building and maintaining the affordable housing. Through its agreement with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority, which oversees the tax credits and ensures compliance, the units are required to remain affordable housing with tenants meeting defined income guidelines for at least 30 years, said Troy Knecht, HFL vice president of development.

"'Workforce [housing]' is a term we have somehow adopted here in central PA, in State College and the surrounding area. These are affordable housing, as the HFA would describe them," Knecht said. "It’s affordable housing based on a percentage of the area median income, so there will be apartments designated [for households earning] 20, 50 and 60 percent of the area median income."

PHFA sets specific rent limits for affordable housing based on household income, which must be 60 percent or below the area median, number of people in the household and number of bedrooms in the rental unit.

In July, the project also received $1.174 million in funding from the  Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund. 

This would be the fifth affordable housing project developed by HFL in Centre County. The company previous built and owns Limerock Court and Pleasant Pointe in College Township, Atherton Place in State College and The Mews in Bellefonte. As with those, the Cherry Lane property would be managed by PMI.

The land where the new building is proposed is located on the north side of West Cherry Lane, directly behind the North Atherton Street Uni-Mart. Three single-family rental homes, which Knecht said have been vacant for more than a year, will be demolished to construct the new building on a 10,000-square-foot footprint. 

Along with the land development proposal, HFL also plans to consolidate the two residential parcels where the houses are currently located along with the adjoining commercial property that contains TGI Fridays, Comfort Suites, Sleep Inn, Valvoline and Step by Step daycare. Those businesses would remain, but the new building and the Village Drive commercial properties would form a single residential-commercial lot. 

Plans for the new building include 36 parking spaces, however, the overall consolidated property would have a required 445 spaces. Sepp said a shared parking agreement would provide additional spaces in the commercial area for the new building.

HFL is also requesting a waiver to a township ordinance requiring sidewalks on both sides of a new access driveway off Cherry Lane. Instead, Sepp said as a matter of convenience for pedestrians, they propose locating sidewalk access directly from the Cherry Lane sidewalk to the main office entrance and from the sidewalk along the driveway opposite North Allen Road to the main residential entrance.

Plans and the waiver request now move to the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors for approval.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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