Construction has officially begun on a $12 million project many years in the making that seeks to transform a blighted neighborhood on York City's west end.
Bulldozers beeped and buzzed behind a temporary tent erected Friday for a groundbreaking ceremony that drew more than a dozen speakers to a microphone.
The formality marked the end of a lengthy planning process sidelined several times by financing challenges and nearly negated by last-minute deadline pressure.
But the York Housing Authority pulled it all together in recent months, securing a land-swap agreement with the city in August. The project is funded with private money and tax credits approved by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
The authority and its partners plan to build 39 rental units on what is now Helen Thackston Memorial Park.
On the other side of West College Avenue, the city will take ownership of the land where the Codorus Homes complex is currently located. Officials have said part of that 29-unit complex is sinking into the ground.
After the new units are built, the authority plans to demolish the Codorus Homes, and the city will turn the vacated land into a creekside park.
The project will be complete by the end of 2013, Richard Fox, executive director of the authority, said Friday.
Monthly rent at the new units will range from $300 to $900, Fox said.
Two members of the York City Council on Friday reminded the public and gathered dignitaries of the York City woman whose name is attached to the land under construction.
Helen Thackston was a Sunday school teacher who "understood the importance of early learning," said York City Council President Carol Hill-Evans.
"What could better honor her memory than to give hope and the promise of a better life to our fellow human beings?" Councilman Henry Nixon said.
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.