A long-awaited York City housing project is in danger of falling apart.
Tied by its funding source to a Sept. 28 deadline to break ground, the York Housing Authority is running out of weeks to finalize its pre-construction plans for a $10 million affordable-housing complex along the Codorus Creek.
At stake is $1.16 million in tax-credit funding that the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency could revoke if the authority does not meet the deadline, said Craig Zumbrun, the authority's deputy director.
"The authority will have walked away from a tremendous amount of effort," he said. "It would be disastrous."
The pressure intensified this week, Zumbrun said, with the York City Council's decision to table its approval of a land-swap agreement that would allow the project to move forward.
"Any delay is not appreciated," Zumbrun said. "It makes us have more things to be doing in less time."
Council President Carol Hill-Evans said the matter was pulled from Tuesday's agenda on the recommendation of city administrators. She said council members were not given time to read last-minute amendments to the land-swap agreement, and no one from the authority showed up to explain.
Besides, Hill-Evans said, the land-development plan has not yet been approved by county planners. If the project goes under after the city transfers its property, "What do we have?"
"Nothing," she said.
The council could vote at its next meeting on Aug. 21, Hill-Evans said.
The authority wants to build a 39-home rental-housing development on what is now Helen Thackston Memorial Park and demolish 28 units of the nearby Codorus Homes complex, part of which is sinking into the ground. That area would be transformed into a new creekside park owned by the city.
The Homes at Thackston Park would be available to tenants who earn up to 60 percent of the county's median income.
The authority learned in April that its grant application for $1.16 million in tax-credit funding had been approved by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. It was the third time the authority had applied for the tax credits, which had become the final piece of the project's funding puzzle.
With that approval, Zumbrun said, came news that the Internal Revenue Service was planning to modify its tax-credit policy for low-income housing projects. To get the money, all projects approved under the old code have to be complete by Dec. 31, 2013, Zumbrun said.
Meeting that deadline shouldn't be a problem, as project engineers predict a 10-month construction timetable, Zumbrun said.
What's complicating matters is the deadline imposed by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency - the conduit for federal housing tax credits - for projects to get going by Sept. 28, Zumbrun said.
The land swap is just one of several steps the authority must take before a shovel can strike ground. Design work is still under way for the project's plumbing and electrical systems, for example, Zumbrun said.
"Every piece of the puzzle has to fit together well before the deadline," he said. "You can't have any piece of the puzzle missing or you can't go to closing."
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