Employment is booming in Fredericksburg, thanks largely to an increase in the number of warehouses and distribution centers that have sprouted in the area in recent years.
Housing, unfortunately, hasn’t kept up with the pace. This week, HDC MidAtlantic — a Lancaster County-based developer of affordable housing —is breaking ground on a housing project just outside Fredericksburg that will add 51 residential units to the community.
“We know this area is experiencing growth, people are attracted to live here to be near their jobs,” Dana Hanchin, president & CEO of HDC MidAtlantic, said in an email Monday, June 29. “HDC is thrilled to play a role in creating a safe, welcoming affordable housing for those in need. We believe at HDC that home is the cornerstone for stability and growth and we are excited to help families and individuals thrive here in Fredericksburg.”
HDC hosted a virtual groundbreaking for Beach Run Apartments at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 30.
The community will be located along North Center Street in Fredericksburg. Chad Martin, director of community relations for HDC, said it’s “on a pretty quiet street … right on the edge of town.”
“The need is 4-to-1 in terms of available housing that meets affordable criteria,” Martin told LebTown. “Obviously, the details are different from community to community, but there continues to be an overwhelming need throughout the country. It’s not an urban problem, it’s not a rural problem. It’s a problem with our national economy.”
In Lebanon County, he said, “there are places that are seeing incredible growth, and Fredericksburg is one of them — even though it’s a quintessential small town.” Its proximity to highways makes it attractive to warehouse and distribution center developments, he said.
“You drive through Fredericksburg today and you see, one after another of these distribution centers … in a town of 1,000 people. In recent years, there’s been a workforce driving in from all over the place. Not just from Lebanon County but all over the place. Most of the workers in these places are not from Fredericksburg … so the need for housing is there.”
There aren’t a lot of rental properties there now, he noted, and “the housing supply hasn’t come up with the growing housing needs.”
Beach Run will feature 51 apartments including 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom floor plans, according to a company statement. Hanchin said the townhouse-style units will be divided among six apartment buildings spread over 6.9 acres.
Six apartments will comply with Americans with Disabilities Act design standards, according to the press release. Amenities include professional on-site management, on-call maintenance, resident services, a community room, playground, walking trail and on-site parking for residents.
Beach Run Apartments will target households with an annual income between $10,780 and $66,560. Monthly rents will range from $202 to $1,320.
The first apartments will be available for occupancy by next spring, Hanchin said, and the project should be complete by autumn 2021.
Currently, she said, HDC is taking names of people who are interested in renting units, although they won’t accept applications for the properties until 120 days before occupancy.
People can call 717-291-1911, ext. 8054, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list.
According to its website, HDC owns or manages more than 3,700 apartments, serving more than 5,000 residents in 58 urban, suburban and rural communities in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
According to the press release, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency awarded $1,229,445 in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to finance the project in 2019. The cost of development is $14.5 million.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Martin said. “This is, I think, fair to say a fairly substantial housing development for that community. As with any communities, when there’s change, it takes time to get used to it, but there’s been a lot of enthusiasm. … The local employers have been early supporters of the project.”
Karen Groh, president and CEO of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, said there’s a need for affordable housing in the area.
“With the addition of multiple warehouses and distribution centers over the past decade and a surge in the past few years, there is an increased need for housing that fits the median income for that region in Lebanon County,” she said. “The addition of 51 newly-built one-, two- or three bedroom apartments will fill an increased need for individuals and families looking for safe, family-friendly and affordable housing.”
Bethel Township officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Robert J. Phillips, who chairs the Lebanon County Commissioners, said the project will be a boon to the community.
“Yes, especially with growth of the large employers in the northern part of Lebanon County over the last decade, I can certainly see a need for affordable housing,” Phillips said. He said the added housing “will improve the quality of life for those families looking to upgrade their living conditions, or for those commuting to work from outside our county.”
He noted that commissioners have “had some preliminary discussion” with the Community Health Council of Lebanon County and other stakeholders in the county “to conduct a study to assess the issues related to housing needs of our county.” However, he said, discussions have been delayed by issues related to COVID-19.
State Rep. Russ Diamond, whose district includes Bethel Township, said he declined to sign a letter supporting the housing project “because I believe such decisions should be left entirely to the municipalities in which such projects are proposed.”
He added: “While I’m sure the local jobs may justify more housing, with any development my concern is always on what additional infrastructure may be needed in the future to support new residents (schools, sewer, water, police coverage, etc.), and what it might cost the current residents of Bethel Township.”
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Full Disclosure: The Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce is an advertiser on LebTown. The campaign of Bob Phillips was a previous advertiser on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.