WWCC green-lights housing proposal

The board of directors of the William Way LGBT Community Center voted unanimously this week to give conditional approval for plans to proceed on the proposed LGBT senior residences.

The board voted unanimously Monday night to allow builder Pennrose Property to move ahead with its preliminary funding applications for the project, but the two must come to a final agreement by March 1 in order for the board to give its final stamp of approval.

Center executive director Chris Bartlett said the board will analyze a range of factors throughout the next four months.

“This conditional approval gives the board time to address a broad range of issues of concern,” he said, including aspects like “gaining further input from community stakeholders, ensuring appropriate compensation to the center for its property and for any potential temporary relocation costs, ensuring that the center continues to own all of the current footprint of the property, ensuring approval of all architectural plans and resolution of other concerns raised by the board and its stakeholders.”

The proposed William Way Senior Residences, an initiative announced earlier this year by the Dr. Magnus Hirschfield Fund, would house about 70 affordable apartments for low-income seniors. The residences would comprise an 11-story structure situated behind and above the existing community center, and the building proposal would include renovations to the center as well.

Bartlett said the board is eager to garner feedback from the public about the initiative before it comes to a final decision.

“We continue to proceed with cautious optimism and due diligence and look forward to engaging seniors, community members and other key stakeholders in these deliberations in the months ahead,” he said.

The proposal also saw a funding victory last week.

The City’s Office of Housing and Community Development released the names of the grantees of its most recent funding cycle, and the proposed senior residences was on the list.

The project will get $2 million in OHCD funding, out of a pool of about $8.5 million that was split among several other initiatives.

Mark Segal, dmhFund president and PGN publisher, said the grant is a big boon for the project.

“We at dmhFund thank [OHCD] for, after careful review of the numerous submissions received in this funding cycle, selecting our proposal of the William Way Senior Residences for funding,” Segal said. “This dream for our community is a step closer, thanks to their support.”

Last month, the state approved a $7-million allocation for the project. 

Published by Jen Colletta in the Philadelphia Gay News on October 16, 2010