Everything is falling into place at Fallbrook, Carbondale’s newest apartment complex.
Construction began on Aug. 1, 2019. Crews have been working through the summer to turn the former Carbondale Hospital into a livable and lively place.
However, the group in charge of developing the complex had their eyes on the vacant lot for many years before that.
“The first time I looked at the building was in 2014, it was vacant and in rough shape,” said Marty Fotta, vice president of community development at United Community Development Corporation. UNCDC is the housing development arm of United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania, a local nonprofit agency dedicated to helping the needy, elderly and disenfranchised communities of the area.
The complex is situated on a 10-acre lot. There are nine building on the lot, with 36 apartments in all. The apartments range in size from one to four bedrooms. There is also an “in-law suite,” a three-bedroom apartment with a separate one-bedroom dwelling attached. The building will also contain six apartments reserved for residents with special needs, with amenities like a wheelchair-accessible shower.
At the forefront of the lot is a stone building, which will serve as a communal/gathering area for the residents and members of the community. The area will also host the Carbondale Senior Center, which will host a variety of activities there, ranging from lectures and language labs to fitness classes.
“The seniors of my grandma’s generation that would go to these centers and play Bingo. That’s not the senior generation now,” said Michele Bannon, Carbondale’s city clerk and zoning officer. “My mom is a senior and she wants to be able to be active and learn new things. That’s how the seniors are now, they want to get out and experience things.”
The complex also boasts walking trails, a community garden and a playground.
“It’ll be a really nice place,” said Fotta. “We’re right up on the edge of Carbondale, it’s peaceful, the neighborhood’s great and the neighbors were really accepting of the project.”
To live in the complex, tenants cannot make more than 60% of the area’s median income. There are also caps on the amount of rent that can be charged. Rent ranges from about $525 for a one bedroom to $815 for a four bedroom. The tenants are provided with trash and sewer services; however, they must pay their own electric bill.
The development itself is built on the former site of Carbondale General Hospital. The old hospital building was remodeled into the site’s main building, and new developments were built along what used to be the site’s parking lot. Fotta said some applicants have told him that they were born at Carbondale General.
“I love it, the stories that are coming out about it. You’ll hear old-time nurses say, ‘That was my first job out of nursing school,’” said Bannon.
Water issues in the basement of the main building and pandemic-related slowdowns were among the biggest challenges in getting the apartment complex ready.
“COVID’s been the biggest problem. Construction stopped for two months. It’s really hard to find appliances now, manufacturing is shut down and there’s a higher demand,” said Fotta.
Carbondale was chosen for the project due to the area’s need for affordable housing, and the need for an updated senior center. Construction should be completed by Nov. 1.
The total cost of the project was $12.4 million. Most of the funding for the project came through low-income housing tax credits awarded by the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency. The credits were then sold to an equity investor from the Royal Bank of Canada.
“They give us the cash in return for the tax credits,” said Fotta. “That gives us the capital that we need for the brick and mortar buildings and they get the tax credits. It’s mutually beneficial.”
Both Fotta and Bannon believe that Fallbrook will be a nice addition to the city of Carbondale. Fotta hopes that Fallbrook residents will be able to enjoy “safer neighborhoods and better facilities.”
“Carbondale’s got a very hometown feel to it. I think that a development like this can be a great addition to the community,” said Bannon.
There is already a waiting list of about 80 people for the new complex. For more information, contact UNCDC’s Director of Real Estate Management, Jill Moyle, at 570-209-3392 or visit www.uncnepa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Rental-Application.pdf for a rental application. Completed rental applications may be mailed to Jill Moyle, United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA, 830 Crown Avenue, Scranton, PA 18505 or faxed to 570-207-4242.