Denver House project moves forward

By on September 28, 2016
The Denver House.

The Denver House.

A landmark Denver Borough building is on its way to a new use.

An ambitious project schedule for finalizing property acquisition of The Denver House, 240 Main St., and renovating it with community services offices on the first floor and an upper floor of affordable apartments was presented by Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership Executive Director Ray D’Agostino and R.E.A.L. Life Community Services Executive Director Rodney Redcay, at the Monday, Sept. 26, borough meeting.

Asked when all this might be completed, D’Agostino responded: “By the end of next year.”

Redcay, who also serves as borough mayor, has to date steered the project on a fast track. He hopes by summer of 2017 to see the renovation done.

The Denver House was a bar and had rooms for rent on the second floor. The physical conditions inside the building, Redcay said, are less than desirable living conditions for its dozen adult residents.

“We are assisting them in finding new housing, and getting help from Lancaster County Coalition for Homeless. I just spoke with one of the longest residents about this today,” said Redcay.

R.E.A.L. Life Community Services signed an agreement with First National Bank to purchase the Denver House. LHOP is a collaborative partner with low-interest loan assistance.

Welsh Mountain Medical Centers will partner with R.E.A.L. Life to provide professional medical, dental, and behavior health services offices on the first floor. It is anticipated that over 1,000 square feet of additional space will be available for commercial purposes on the first floor.

“Denver has 300 residents coming to us already,” said Welsh Mountain Chief Executive Officer, Georgette Dukes McAllister. “It’s a natural for us to be here. Not a lot of practices accept Medical Assistance, some don’t even take Medicare and there are many uninsured.”

Local residents, in the unusually full audience of nearly 30 people, unanimously endorsed the changes planned for the building. Also present were local industry leaders in construction, plumbing and heating, flooring and electric who have pledged major donations of materials, time and/or labor.

Total cost for the project is $1.5 to $1.7 million. The soft phase of the capital campaign is about to close and the public phase begin

Redcay and D’Agostino praised Denver Council members for their letter of support for the project. Consideration of a financial contribution for this downtown revitalization project, Redcay said, would be greatly appreciated.

“Looking at the property, it’s sustainable, and there’s a need for services,” he said. “The apartments are for people to apply for affordable housing. Leases will be for one year. This is not housing for transients or homeless. Because we’re renting to people, we’ll be paying full property taxes on that property.”

D’Agostino complimented the project’s progress, and said it’s already been discussed as a model by another community which would like to do a similar type project.

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