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Hempfield housing complex for low-income senior citizens approved in Westmoreland

| Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 11:15 p.m.

Westmoreland County Housing Authority board members on Tuesday approved the construction of an $11 million housing complex for low-income senior citizens.

The building, to be called Odin View Apartments, will be erected on authority-owned property adjacent to South Greengate Commons, a new senior apartment complex in Hempfield that was opened by the authority late last year.

“This is a very exciting opportunity,” authority chairman Dan Wukich said. “It's our purpose.”

The authority last year completed its first new construction project in more than 20 years.

South Greengate Commons, an $11.5 million project, opened for business in October.

As of Tuesday, all 45 apartments had been leased. There are about 15 people whose names are on a waiting list for the one-bedroom units.

Odin View Apartments will be built next door on land leased to the county to house the office of District Judge Mark Mansour.

Executive Director Michael Washowich of the housing authority said the four-story building will offer 46 one-bedroom apartments to be rented to senior citizens who meet income eligibility requirements.

“We had overwhelming response to building No. 1. It demonstrated a need for affordable housing for seniors,” Washowich said.

Construction is contingent on approval of a financing package similar to that used to build South Greengate Commons.

The authority next month will apply for more than $9 million in federal tax credits that can be sold to investors. The money raised will pay for the majority of construction costs.

Authority board members voted on Tuesday to loan the project $1 million and provide $185,000 in equity to the financing package.

Construction cannot begin until the tax-credit plan is approved by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Washowich said.

That approval could arrive this summer, with construction expected to begin in 2015. Tenants could move into the new apartments by early 2016, Washowich said.

The construction project is part of an overall rehabilitation of the 55 acres the authority owns in Hempfield.

The board is planning to either renovate or build a headquarters building on the mostly wooded property on South Greengate Road, behind Route 30.

Additional housing projects could be approved.

“We've got 30 acres left to develop,” Washowich said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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