A+ Homes Forum Highlights Housing for an Aging Population and Construction Costs

Continuing to focus on supporting homes for all community members, the Chester County Planning Commission hosted public sessions on housing for an aging population and housing construction costs. The “A+ Homes Forum” took place on Tuesday, November 17, and Thursday, November 19, with more than 75 people who attended the virtual Zoom sessions.

Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell attended Tuesday’s session, providing opening remarks regarding the county’s aging population. “Our county is working together to serve all of our residents, including and especially, our senior population,” noted Maxwell. “We have a number of departments such as our Aging Services Department, the Department of Community Development, and the Planning Commission, which are all offering unique services and programs to help ensure safe and quality housing for our senior population.”

The Planning Commission’s new video on the A+ Homes initiative debuted at the forum, which provided an overview of the initiative. Focused on getting the message out about the need for A+ Homes, this short video highlights the needs of community members and calls for action. See the video here.

Libby Horwitz, Senior Housing and Economic Planner at the Planning Commission, presented a summary of the county’s senior housing report, which will be released early 2021, including the need for senior housing as identified in Landscapes3 (the county’s comprehensive plan) due to an increasing senior population, senior housing goals, an inventory of Chester County’s senior housing, and tools for communities to achieve the goals.

Mark Gordon and Rick Smith from East Goshen Township presented on senior housing options and accommodations in East Goshen, including implications to local government. Their focus was on the Hershey’s Mill community which offers a variety of mixed housing options for those who are 55 and older, as well as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and other considerations.

Ryan Bailey, Senior Developer with Pennrose Properties, was the final presenter of Tuesday’s session, highlighting Pennrose’s mission to create a variety of senior housing options and showcasing innovative examples.

On Thursday, November 19, the forum was based around housing construction costs, with a focus on new residential designs, policies for affordably-priced homes, and tools for municipalities.

Brian O’Leary presented opening remarks, as did Pat Bokovitz, Director of the Chester County Department of Community Development, who gave an update on some of the county’s current senior and affordably-priced housing programs.

Projects highlighted include the Melton Center Apartments in West Chester Borough (51 general occupancy units), Red Clay Manor in Kennett Square Borough (62 senior units), and Kimber Village in East Pikeland Township (48 general occupancy units), which are all underway. He also noted three additional potential projects the county has supported, which are the Phoenix Senior Housing in Phoenixville (50 senior units), the Aston Park Apartments (57 senior units) and the Willows of Valley Run (50 general occupancy units) in Caln Township, which have yet to break ground.

Chris Patriarca, Senior Community Planner at the Planning Commission, followed with an engaging presentation on housing construction costs in Chester County, specifically in regard to new residential designs and policies for affordably-priced homes. He also highlighted some tools (or “eTools”) that the Planning Commission has developed to assist municipalities with some of these issues, such as: affordably-priced homes, accessory dwelling units, affordably-priced housing bonuses, cluster development, compact development design, housing diversity, and mini-homes. See more housing eTools.

Neal Fisher from the Hankin Group presented next on some of the challenges of affordably-priced housing from a development side, as well as the need for housing variety within our communities.

The final presenter of the forum, Joe Scalise, former Borough Manager of Kennett Square, spoke about Kennett’s initiatives for affordably-priced housing, especially more recently as they’ve been working with local developers and partners to address the growing needs of their community.

Each of the sessions was followed with an engaging question and answer session.

To view the session recordings and learn more about the A+ Homes initiative in Chester County, visit https://www.chescoplanning.org/Housing/aPlusHomes.cfm.