State tax credits denied for Chesco housing project

Posted: June 15, 2014

The proposed veterans housing project at the historic Whitehall Inn in East Vincent Township suffered another setback Thursday when it was denied for a second year in a row the state tax credits it needs to become a reality.

Mission First Housing Group, a Philadelphia-based developer, was hoping to get low-income housing tax credits that would make up more than 80 percent of the $9.63 million it needs. Thirty-five of the 48 units would be reserved for veterans. The developer, Chester County officials, and community groups that support the project had been confident it would go forward this year.

"We are extremely disappointed," said Mark Deitcher, Mission First's director of business development. "We feel this project is incredibly important to the veterans it would serve."

Deitcher said Mission First is still committed to and seeking funding for the project, which would refurbish and incorporate the inn on Schuylkill Road. In the coming weeks, the developer will seek a meeting with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to find out why it didn't fund the project.

The agency awarded more than $20 million in tax credits to 24 of the 74 suburban projects that requested funding. Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties each had one project that got the tax credits this year. The agency tries to scatter winners throughout the state.

The agency also considers developers' financial plans, communities' affordable-housing needs, access to public transportation, and community support when awarding the credits.

Most projects aren't funded the first or second time the state agency reviews their applications, said Scott Elliott, the agency's spokesman.

"It's not unusual for it to go into a third year," he said. "And, of course, there isn't any guarantee about the third year."

The chances of acceptance increase with each subsequent year as applicants refine their applications, he said.

Another of Mission First's projects, in Bradford County in northeastern Pennsylvania, will receive more than $900,000 in tax credits.

610-313-8207 @MichaelleBond

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