LGBT-Friendly Affordable Seniors Community Opens in Philly
- Mar 03, 2014
Philadelphia—Pennrose Properties and dmhFund have opened John C. Anderson Apartments, the first LBGT-friendly affordable seniors housing communities east of the Mississippi, to great fanfare. Government officials and community leaders gathered at 249 South 13th Street in the heart of Philadelphia’s ‘Gayborhood’ on Monday, February 24, to celebrate the formal opening.
According to Jacob Fisher, development officer at Pennrose, the idea for the community came roughly four-and-a-half years ago. Mark Segal, president of the dmhFund and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News met Pennrose CEO & chairman Richard Barnhart at a party.
“Mark said something along the lines of ‘Hey, would you be interested in doing affordable, LGBT-friendly, seniors housing?’, Fisher tells MHN. “Rich thought about it for probably two seconds and said ‘Absolutely. It can be done.’ So that was really the genesis.”
In April 2012, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency voted to provide a reservation of LIHTC that would generate up to $11 million for the $19.5 million development. Construction on the 56-unit community began in November, 2012. The certificate of occupancy was awarded at the end of November 2013, and the property is currently about 75 percent leased.
The building is named after John C. Anderson, a member of Philadelphia’s City Council from 1979 to 1984 who was instrumental in passing the city’s civil rights bill that included gay rights. Calling the building LGBT-friendly means that anyone can be comfortable living there, Fisher says.
“We would hope that every community is LGBT friendly, but I think it is established that it is not the case,” Fisher says. “We are being overt in saying that this is going to be an open and welcoming community. But there is certainly no requirement that anyone express a particular orientation, or even tell us what it is. We just want to create a place where people can be comfortable.”
Based on the community features and Pennrose management team, comfort is close to guaranteed. The six-story community features an elevator, several multi-purpose spaces for residents and guests, and a 5,000-square-foot enclosed courtyard. There is also a roof deck and community room for entertaining. The John C. Anderson Apartments also meet Energy Star standards and features a solar thermal water heating system and a green roof to aide in storm water management. (MHN actually had the opportunity to tour the asset during Green Build this November. You can view the project, as well as several other sustainable Philadelphia communities, via the link above.)
Rents at the property range from $638-$786. One-bedroom units are available in two floor plans, and at least one member of each household needs to be age 62 or older to live at The John C. Anderson Apartments.
While Pennrose doesn’t have any other LGBT-friendly affordable seniors housing projects in the pipeline at the moment, Fisher says the firm is definitely open to creative developments and working with non-profit partners.
“We are always looking to do creative things with non-profit partners,” Fisher adds. “What non-profits bring to the table — beyond their establishment in a particular neighborhood, or a particular community — is creative ideas that we can take to other places that we may or may not have conceived separately. They are bringing the passion and ideas, and we are brining development capacity into that partnership.”