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Developers unveil residential community plans in Lancaster

By , - Last modified: May 3, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Several development partners on Wednesday unveiled the plans for New Town Lancaster, a residential community in the city.

At the city Planning Commission meeting, Doug Phillips, of Lancaster-based Tono Architects, presented the design for a 300-unit housing development on the city-owned north section of Sunnyside Peninsula. The project is estimated to cost $50 million to $70 million.

The county transferred the land to city ownership after several plans failed over the past 15 years to develop the property.

A market study conducted last year demonstrated a high demand for apartments, said Ken Smith, executive director of project developer Community Basics Inc. in Lancaster.

The other 150 homes would include townhouses, duplexes, cottages and large single-family homes, he said. Some of the rental units will be condominiums that could be sold if the market for sales increases in a few years, he said.

The 80-acre parcel is in the southeast section of Lancaster, surrounded by a bend of the Conestoga River. It's bordered by South Broad Street, Conestoga Drive and Pleasant Street.

Five developments are planned within the multi-housing area. Most of the neighborhoods would have mixed types of housing available, with varied square footage and pricing, Phillips said.

The communities were designed with plenty of green space, off-street parking and walkability, he said.

A nearby lake would provide water via geothermal heating and cooling systems for the homes, Smith said.

Some of the homes have been designed with rental units on the first floor that could be transitioned to commercial space if there was interest, he said.

The developers have approached several Lancaster County-based homebuilders to take on the different housing types, he said. Design standards and guidelines would be developed in tandem with the builders.

"The challenges of the past appear to be resolved," Phillips said.

In about two months, David Miller/Associates Inc., based in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, will submit a tentative master plan to the commission. Plans likely will detail individual phases of the project, Smith said.

Later, final fully engineered plans will be submitted to the commission at a public hearing for the planning commission to approve zoning use and architecture, among other things, senior planner P. Craig Lenhard said.

"It looks beautiful, really nice," LaGena Wright, a member of the planning commission, said.

The commission would like to complete the approval process by the end of this year and begin construction in the spring, Smith said.

The county retained ownership of 10 acres for a possible future office building or other use. The county's Youth Intervention Center would be adjacent to the development.

Caldwell, Heckles & Egan Inc., based in Lancaster, is assisting with development and building the apartment buildings. D.H. Funk & Sons in West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, will excavate the site.

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