CHESTER — City Council gave its support to one facet of the new Silvercare Nursing and Rehabilitation Campus under development on West Ninth Street during its regular meeting Wednesday morning. Council passed a resolution committing $100,000 in HOME funds to a proposed 49-unit affordable senior housing development on the Silvercare site.

Silvercare parent company Everest Health Management Group LLC is currently renovating the former site of Community and Sacred Heart hospitals at 2600 W. Ninth St. for a comprehensive senior health care complex and all-ages urgent care center. The management group acquired the property through a subsidiary, Silvercare Real Estate LLC, in March of this year from a subsidiary of Crozer-Keystone Health Network parent Prospect Medical Holdings Inc. Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland announced at his State of the City address in June that the facility is expected to generate 200-300 jobs.

“The mayor and council are supportive of the project. It’s a great reuse for a building that no longer serves as a hospital,” said Lisa Gaffney, Chester Economic Development Authority director of housing, by phone Wednesday. Parent company Everest is applying to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit for the project. Gaffney and Everest officials both estimated that construction on the housing component of the project will begin in 2021 with an additional one to two years for completion should the company be awarded the credit.

“Older adults have huge difficulty with health care organizations by themselves. With everything on one campus, the physicians and the caregivers can have better communication between each other so we can come up with a more comprehensive care plan for older adults,” Everest spokeswoman Yoyo Yu said.

The campus’ south building – the primary Community Hospital building fronting on West Ninth Street – will house urgent care, a blood drawing station, and adult day care. Everest currently provides these services on a smaller scale at a location in the 6700 block of Market Street in Upper Darby. “Adult day care … is an important component for seniors to age in place,” Yu said. The service provides food, exercise and activities for senior citizens who may live alone and otherwise have little social interaction. The building will also feature skilled nursing for both short and long term care, memory units and subacute care. Ancillary services planned for the building include a restaurant, convenience store and beauty salon.

The north building – the former Sacred Heart hospital – is planned to house the proposed senior living apartment. The former convent building fronting on West 10th Street is planned as a respite care unit for the mildly mentally challenged. Everest Chairman Dr. Guofang Wang said the respite care plans came from community member and insurance company requests to satisfy unmet demand in the area. The three-story structure immediately west of the south building is currently ready for lease to specialists and health care-related organizations.

Yu and Wang estimated that initial service in the south building – urgent care, adult day care, home care and rehab – will be open within six months. Respite care has been given priority to open in one year, depending on funding availability, followed by skilled nursing care in spring 2021. Everest officials estimate a five-year minimum to have the campus fully operational and the projected 300 jobs number met.

The city’s pledge of HOME funds for the senior living component will both provide funding to the project and bolster the company’s tax credit application. “If you’re in a statewide competition, you need to show that your … municipality is supportive of the project. It’s sort of two-fold in that regard,” said Gaffney.

The Pennsylvania HOME Program, administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “is a federally funded program that provides municipalities with grant and loan assistance to expand and preserve the supply of decent and affordable housing for low- and very low-income Pennsylvanians,” according to DCED.

The proposed residential development will aid CEDA’s goal of keeping viable housing stock in the city along with the economic boost from facility’s health care component.

“It’s important to have quality units that can be rented to older senior citizens that want to stay in the community,” said Gaffney. “If they’re moving out of a large house, this gives them the opportunity to stay there and be close to services that are going to be … provided on site,” she said. “It’s going to take a building that’s currently vacant and could become a blighting influence and put that into a productive reuse.”

“A higher employment rate and lower crime rate usually coexist. The key is with promoting employment. We’re creating more jobs in this area,” said Wang. “I cannot ask the mayor and CEDA for more. We have got tremendous support from them.”

According to the resolution, “the city will set aside HOME funds in the amount of $100,000 for the Silver Senior Housing Development,” with issuance of a financing commitment conditioned on receipt of a reservation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; proof that all other necessary financing is secured; compliance with HOME Program requirements and all applicable federal, state and local regulations; and final review and approval of the project by the city and CEDA.


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