A Philadelphia demolition company has started the process to dismantle the vacant Montgomery Hospital on Powell Street by asking the Norristown Zoning Hearing Board to allow a 6-foot-high fence to secure the demolition site.
The board will hold a public hearing on the variance request from USA Environmental Management Inc. at 7 p.m., Aug. 26. The fence will be erected “on all street frontages” to allow for a “secured demolition site in the OR -Office Retail zoning district.”
The variance request was filed Aug. 13 after Norristown Zoning Officer Jayne Musonye denied permission to erect the demolition fence without a variance.
“Your proposal to construct a fence around vacant hospital during demolition to protect public (is) not permitted,” said the variance application. “You may seek relief from these requirements through the zoning hearing board.”
Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (AEHN) and the Elon Group in Fort Washington are collaborating on the demolition of the hospital, which closed in September 2012 as Einstein Medical Center Montgomery (EMCM) opened in East Norriton.
AEHNand the Elon Group will share the $4 million to $5 million cost of removing asbestos from the sevenstory, 365,000-square-foot building and demolishing it. The demolition work is expected to take eight months to complete and begin this summer. When demolition is complete, AEHN will sell the building and the 3.7-acre site to the Elon Group for $1.
The Elon Group has proposed building a 100-unit senior apartment complex divided into two, 50-unit buildings to better qualify for a partial, public financing of the $45 to $50 million project.
It will be built in two phases over more than two years to qualify for Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) funding for both phases, said Francis Vargas, the vice president of the Elon Group.
Parking for 48 cars on site would be supplemented by 200 designated parking spaces in the former hospital’s parking garage. The medical office building would remain but an overhead, enclosed walkway to the hospital building over Powell Street would be demolished. A 15,000-square-foot health building for seniors would be built during the second phase of construction.
The first Elon Group application to the PHFA for a low-income housing tax credit of $1,031,535 was not approved in June, said Scott Elliott, the PHFA director of communications, in an email. He said that about 25 percent of the grant requests statewide are granted each year.
The Elon Group is expected to resubmit an application for the 2015 funding round. Those applications are due by Jan. 31, 2015 and the award decisions are typically made in June each year.
The $11,869,333 financing plan for construction of the first building included a $10,367,958 Wells Fargo commercial loan, a $750,000 PennHomes loan, $290,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program, $226,800 as a rent subsidy from the reinvested developer fee, $30,000 as a reinvested developer fee and a $204,575 reinvested developer fee.
Vargas did not respond to several requests for comment from The Colonial’s sister paper.
Two 50-unit senior housing buildings could replace the former Montgomery Hospital in Norristown.