Intergenerational Senior Housing to Rise in East Falls
NewCourtland’s building makeover will add 175 apartments — not all of them occupied by seniors — to 85 affordable units already on the site.
People of a certain age can probably recall a time when the nuclear family was a little more molecular. Which is to say, a time when Grandma or Grandpa shared space under the same roof as their grandkids — and, of course, their parents, their own children.
These arrangements had many things to recommend them, such as free child care for working parents built into the living arrangements.
Since then, however, we have worked hard to sort out the generations, putting parents and kids in suburban (or urban) houses and sending the grandparents off to senior living communities. Some people — me, for instance — believe this sort of separation leaves both the seniors and the grandkids worse off, not to mention the parents poorer.
Now, one of the leading developers of affordable senior housing in Philadelphia is taking a big step forward into the past. NewCourtland Apartments at Henry Avenue — construction on which is set to begin this summer — is a 175-unit, mixed-income, multi-generational apartment building that will offer both affordable apartments for seniors and market-rate apartments for everyone else.
In a news release earlier this year, NewCourtland President and CEO Joe Duffey explains, “135 of the apartments will be sized and priced to appeal to a wide range of income levels. 40 units will be reserved for older adults and subsidized for those who financially qualify.” And 20 of the apartments will be equipped with accessible features for individuals with disabilities. NewCourtland brought in Inglis Housing Corporation, which specializes in providing accessible affordable housing, to oversee the accessible units, which are being designed by project architect LRK of Memphis.
Community amenities include a rooftop lounge, a community garden, a dog park, storage facilities, an exercise room, ball courts, two guest apartments, community and event spaces, and a maker space that individuals, groups and organizations can rent for projects and hobbies.
One of the big reasons NewCourtland is redeveloping this former psychiatric hospital as a mixed-income, intergenerational development: This way, the company can get affordable senior housing built faster. “We’ve already developed 85 units of affordable senior housing on this site as well as a life center and a dialysis center for DaVita,” says John Unger, NewCourtland’s corporate counsel and director of planning. “What remains is a really large 11-story tower.
“Typically, the way you would develop affordable housing is to apply for low-income housing tax credits. And that is just a really time-consuming process — there’s no way to do it all at once.”
But NewCourtland also saw a unique opportunity in taking the path it took. “We thought, ‘That’s a lot of seniors in one building,'” says Unger. “Is it really the best thing for the residents to just put this homogeneous population of elderly people in one location? We thought if we combined affordable senior housing, what we know and do so well, with market-rate housing and create an environment where people of all different backgrounds can come together and live, we think it’s going to be the most vibrant, thriving environment for everyone.”
And that includes non-seniors with disabilities: Ten of the 20 accessible units will be offered at market rates.
The integration of both incomes and generations will be thorough as well. “We didn’t create a separate wing for the affordable seniors or the accessible units,” Unger says. “We very intentionally interspersed them throughout the building so it creates a sense of community.” The company did, however, locate the accessible units close to the building elevators.
The common spaces and the maker space are likewise designed to promote intergenerational mixing. Including the fitness center, where Inglis is working with NewCourtland to enable residents with disabilities to work out there, too. “We really want to create spaces where everyone’s going to come together and find common ground,” Unger says.
NewCourtland at Henry Avenue is the first affordable senior housing project the company is building in this manner. “All of our projects before have been strictly affordable rental housing for seniors and developing life centers,” says Unger.
Developing this as a mixed-income project should also make it more affordable for NewCourtland to run. “We believe that including some market-rate housing helps subsidize the operations of the affordable housing,” says Unger.
“Our hope is that, if this goes well, this is something we would certainly consider in future development. We will always be in the business of providing affordable senior housing, but if we can do it in a way that is more financially feasible for the building operations and also creates what we think is a better environment for the seniors, we’re going to keep doing this.”
NewCourtland Henry Avenue by the Numbers
Address: 3200 Henry Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19129
Number of units: 175 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 310 to 1,700 square feet. Twenty-one studios range in size from 310 to 380 square feet; 105 one-bedrooms, 460 to 700 square feet; 33 one-bedrooms with dens, 690 to 934 square feet; 11 two-bedroom, single- and bi-level units, 1,000 to 1,700 square feet; three three-bedroom bi-level units, 1,700 square feet, and two 260-square-foot guest apartments.
Number of parking spaces: Not available
Pet policy: Not available
Rents: The 40 affordable senior units are all one-bedrooms that rent for $1,225.50 per month. Market-rate rents (all rounded up to the nearest dollar): Studios, $1,166 to $1,337 per month; one-bedrooms, $1,800 per month; one-bedrooms with dens, $2,408 per month; two-bedrooms, $1,907 to $3,588 per month; three-bedrooms, $3,009 per month.
More information: Leasing has not yet begun for this building, but when it does begin, information will be available on the NewCourtland website, by email to email@example.com or by calling 1-888-530-4913.
Updated May 21st, 7 p.m., to properly credit the project architect, which produced the renderings and is designing the accessible units.