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Neighbors Protest St. Joseph Hospital $90M Government Housing Redevelopment Scheme

Neighbors Protest St. Joseph Hospital $90M Government Housing Redevelopment Scheme

By Trey 6,679 comments

Lancaster-blog doesn’t have the staff to be everywhere – yet, stay tuned – so good on the LNP for catching the protest on West Chestnut Street yesterday where protesters came out against the problematic proposal to turn the old St. Joseph Hospital on College Avenue into a mixed use development with government subsidized housing.

The protest comes one day after first reported on the negative impact this redevelopment scheme could have on both lower-income and affluent homeowners in the neighborhood.

As we reported,  the proposal to turn the brutalist-style hospital into housing, offices, and shops would create serious traffic problems, increase crime and drive down housing prices in the neighborhood.

The property is located in a unique area that borders both high-end homes and lower-income neighborhoods. This means the redevelopment could hurt lower-income renters with the gentrification effect that could price them out of their own homes, while simultaneously driving down home values in other, higher-income bordering neighborhoods because of the crime and other negative externalities that accompany low-income government housing.

On Monday, the Lancaster City Council Community Planning Committee voted 3-0 to advance a request to rezone the property. The measure they passed would change the property at 250 College Avenue from “hospital complex” to “mixed use” zoning.

The measure will get a first reading at the full council meeting on Aug. 11.

While residents in more upscale abutting neighborhoods could face falling property values and increased crime, residents and renters in more downscale adjacent neighborhoods could see themselves gentrified out of their homes.

Initial plans for development include adding 325 housing units, more than a third of which would be subsidized public housing.

An eyesore of modernist architecture, St. Joseph’s has been vacant since February 2019, when UPMC moved its emergency and inpatient care to a facility in Lititz. 

Dana Hanchin, HDC MidAtlantic president and CEO has admitted that the proposal – which is contingent on low income housing credits – would likely fail if the community doesn’t back the project, and it looks like there isn’t a lot of community buy-in – the opposite, in fact, according to the LNP.

Image: LNP

A small group of members of a local advocacy organization protested around Lancaster city on Wednesday to oppose the rezoning and redevelopment of the former St. Joseph Hospital site from a hospital complex to a mixed-use building.

The Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee of antipoverty organization Put People First! PA hosted the rally, beginning in Penn Square, to express their dissatisfaction with the plan to convert the hospital, while there are more pressing issues in the city like the “unjust and deadly” Lancaster County Prison, according to a news release. 

Notably, this is larger than most of the BLM protests were by the second week of June.

WPE and HDC will host an online community meeting for neighborhood residents about the development later today.

So far, much of the opposition right now comes from community members more worried about gentrification rather than the damage this project will cause in terms of traffic, crime and neighboring home values, but every bit of opposition helps.

HDC MidAtlantic was founded in Lancaster in 1971, and it owns or manages 3,700 affordable housing units in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, including 1,500 in Lancaster County, where crime rates are higher and neighboring home values are negatively impacted compared to housing that is market priced.