The Lehigh Valley has seen around 1,400 age-restricted or assisted living units approved over the last five years.
It’s one housing sector that never really suffered from a slowdown, says Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Becky Bradley.
“It’s the one form of development that didn’t really have much of a chill on it,” she told lehighvalleylive.com. “It had a mild chill. It was more of a refrigeration situation than a deep freeze.”
This month, Bethlehem officials will consider a rezoning request that would pave the way for a 40-unit residential retirement development at 2105 Creek Road. The city planning commission is scheduled to review the project Thursday, followed by a city council public hearing on the rezoning request set for March 17, said Bethlehem Planning and Zoning Director Darlene Heller.
Developer Abraham Atiyeh describes the project on 10.5 acres as independent living for residents around an average age of 75. The proposal calls for 20 one-bedroom units and 20 two bedrooms, with an existing home on the property to be converted into a clubhouse with administrative offices.
The request before Bethlehem to rezone the property to residential retirement complex from rural residential touches on part of the reason age-restricted housing remains so popular with developers.
“Adding another area within the Bethlehem City map meets a growing need for the aging Baby Boomer generation while allowing them to age in the City and not move to other municipalities that officer residential retirement complex,” wrote Sue Kandil, president of Penn Technology Consulting LLC, which is working on the plan.
Along with more Baby Boomers looking to downsize their space and property maintenance chores, Pennsylvania’s tax structure is also helping to fuel age-restricted housing construction, says Bradley.
Pennsylvania does not tax retirement income of workers who met the requirements for retirement under their employer’s plan, according to the state Department of Revenue. That extends to Social Security income, making Pennsylvania one of only two states — and the only one on the East Coast — that considers retirement income exempt from state taxes, says senior living developer Cornwall Manor.
In another addition to the Lehigh Valley’s age-restricted housing stock, the East Allen Township Board of Supervisors on Feb. 27 approved the 82-home Phase 2 of Toll Brothers’ Regency at Creekside Meadows 55-and-old community along Route 512, across from Steuben Road.
That entire project is 232 homes, with Phase 1 under construction, according to township Manager Brent Green. It breaks down into 143 single family dwellings, 38 single family attached townhomes and 51 single family triplexes, along with a clubhouse.
Toll Brothers’ timeline calls for 35 of the homes to be sold this year, followed by 54 annually in 2021 through 2023, 30 in 2024 and five in 2025, Green said.
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission reports 1,201 age-restricted homes approved from 2015 through 2019 in Lehigh and Northampton counties. The three-phase East Allen Township project is in addition to that, with 181 homes approved so far and a 51-home third phase slated for future approval. Including the entire 232-home East Allen project, that’s 1,433 homes, not counting the 40-home 2105 Creek Road project in Bethlehem.
Following is a table listing the projects by type, number of units and municipality, along with any commercial component included. If the graphic is not displaying, consider viewing this article via your web browser at lehighvalleylive.com.
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