Plans for Canonsburg Senior Lofts get council approval

Gideon Bradshaw
Observer Reporter

Canonsburg borough officials approved a developer’s plans to build a senior apartment complex on the site of the former First Street Elementary School.

A subsidiary of Cincinnati-based MVAH Partners got approval from council on Monday to build Canonsburg Senior Lofts, a proposed mixed-income complex of 50 one- and two-bedroom units for seniors 62 and older.

Trey Barbour, MVAH senior vice president of development for the Northeast region, said the project would be different from one operated with funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Instead, he said, it’s more like a “rent-control” project.

Barbour answered council members’ questions about the plans by speaker phone ahead of the vote. Most of the officials’ questions were focused on income requirements for would-be residents. Barbour told them there’s no minimum income, but tenants “would need to be able to pay the rent.”

A single occupant would be required to have an income of $31,000 or less. The cutoff would be $36,000 for two people.

“Really, what this program is established for is to make sure there’s affordability in communities for seniors that need it,” he said.

Council voted 6-0 to accept the plans – which still depend on tax credits the developer is seeking to fund construction – in line with the recommendation the planning commission made in a vote last week. The developer is also seeking variances, including one related to parking. Those will be the subject of a public hearing before the zoning hearing board at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The proceeding will be held in the municipal building.

Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency spokesman Scott Elliott said final applications for low-income housing tax credits aren’t due until Nov. 16, but MVAH “did previously indicate an intent to submit for the development in Canonsburg, Washington County.”

Council agreed last year to grant a 50 percent, five-year break on real estate taxes for the project. Officials weren’t sure what that local incentive would amount to.

Council President R.T. Bell described the project at the site of the former school building as a way to generate new revenue for the small town.

“It was great as a school, but it didn’t bring any money to the borough,” Bell said. “Now we have something that’s going to bring a little bit of money to the borough, and it’s going to be a nice entrance to the community. When people come into town, they see it.”