Tom Waring, Staff Writer
“Pennypack Crossing recently celebrated its grand opening. The former convent on the campus of Nazareth Hospital is now an apartment complex for people 55 or older and the disabled.
Helene Nestel moved to the Northeast in 1963 and was happy in her single rancher in Winchester Park.
Recently, she learned of the conversion of a former convent on the Holme Avenue campus of Nazareth Hospital into an apartment complex for people 55 or older and the disabled.
Nestel made plans to move into the complex, and it looks like she’ll be selling her house without it even being listed. Her furniture fit into her new home, and visitors to her Pennypack Crossing apartment like the new digs. She’ll move in full time next month.
“I am now a happy resident of Pennypack Crossing and can remain in my Northeast area that I love,” she said.
Nestel spoke last week at the grand opening of Pennypack Crossing, 2723 Holme Ave.
The Holme Circle Civic Association has been working for five years with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth to find a reputable developer for affordable senior citizen housing for the former convent.
They settled on Conifer, a real estate development, construction and management company that has been building affordable housing for more than 40 years.
Conifer teamed with Inglis Housing Corporation, which strives to help disabled people live in independent, accessible housing.
Pennypack Crossing consists of 44 one-bedroom units, 32 for folks 55-plus and 12 for the disabled. All units are taken.
The project cost more than $12.5 million. Most of the funding came from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit. TD Bank provided a construction loan of $5.2 million.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Oct. 11, and guests toured the six-floor facility. The complex features a community room with kitchenette, fitness center, computer lab, professional staff, a 24-hour maintenance team and onsite parking.
Conifer senior vice president Charles Lewis, who was born at Nazareth when it was a new hospital, emceed the ceremony. He credited state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. and his predecessor, Mike Stack, and their staffs, along with City Councilman Bobby Henon and former Councilmen Ed Neilson and Denny O’Brien.
Tom Johnson, Conifer’s executive vice president, thanked the community for its support, adding that there is a need for modern affordable housing in the area. He also praised the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
“Their prayers helped get us through this project,” he said.
Sister Teresa Mika, the provincial treasurer for the order, described the former convent as a center of welcome and hospitality, filled with a family spirit.
“May God bless all who enter here,” she said.
Holly Glauser, PHFA’s development director, said her agency is glad to help keep rents low in a place built by a quality developer such as Conifer in partnership with the highly reputable Inglis.
Kevin Kelly, managing director of the 140-year-old Inglis, said his agency is pleased that clients are living in a safe neighborhood so close to shopping, transportation and a hospital.
Stack, now lieutenant governor, is glad to see affordable housing for older people.
“Seniors need to have an independence,” he said.
Henon called the facility a “jewel of Northeast Philadelphia.”
“Nobody wants a vacant building,” he said.
Sabatina thanked former Holme Circle Civic Association president Elsie Stevens for her perseverance.
Stevens, who introduced Nestel, recalled that the community began working on the project in October 2012. She thanked Sister Celine Warnilo for her prayers, elected officials for their help and neighboring civic associations for joining a letter-writing campaign to ensure a reputable developer.
Those civics were Mayfair, Winchester Park, Holmesburg, Upper Holmesburg, East Torresdale and Rhawnhurst.
“Today is one of the most fulfilling days of community spirit,” Stevens said. ••
To obtain an application or for more information, call 215–372–2302 or visit pennypackcrossing.com“