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HOUSING: 2 Projects Planned : 2 Senior Housing Units Set for Whittier Site

October 10, 1985|STEVEN R. CHURM | Times Staff Writer

WHITTIER — The final pieces of a long-awaited senior citizen housing development on the edge of Uptown Village have fallen into place with the approval of a $4.2-million federal construction grant.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved funding for a 75-unit, low-cost senior housing complex on a portion of the former William Penn Hotel site. The complex to be built by California Yearly Meeting--the development arm of the Quaker church--is one of 10 projects selected by HUD for financing in Southern California next year.

With the HUD announcement last month, Whittier officials say the master plan is now set for the 2.3-acre hotel site on Philadelphia Street between Washington and Friends avenues.

Two Developers

The Quaker group will purchase and build on about one acre of the site, while Abrams Development Inc., a Los Alamitos company, will buy and develop the balance of the vacant parcel, erecting a four-story, 158-unit senior housing complex.

The Quaker housing is for fixed- or low-income elderly, while the units built by Abrams will be aimed at those in moderate- or upper-income brackets.

"There is a dramatic need for senior housing in Whittier and we are excited that we now have a chance to fulfill that need," said Chuck Hise, a California Yearly Meeting executive who put together the group's financing application for the Whittier project, which is called Penn Manor. "We've wanted to meet the needs of low-income seniors for a number of years. It looks like it's finally going to happen."

20% Are Over 60

Nearly 20% of Whittier's 69,000 residents are over age 60, according to the 1980 Census, and city officials say that percentage has grown. Housing for the elderly is in short supply, with more than 300 people on a five-year waiting list at the city's only other senior housing complex, Lutheran Towers.

For two years, the Quaker group has attempted to secure federal funding for the project. Past efforts were thwarted because the group was unable to acquire the Penn Hotel site. In August, however, the City Council agreed to lend the group $500,000 to buy the land. Hise said escrow on the property should close next month. If city officials approve the group's plans, construction could begin early next year, with completion early in 1987.

No Meal Program

Although details are still tentative, Hise said Penn Manor will be six stories, with studio and one-bedroom apartments. In addition to small kitchens in each apartment, there will be a central kitchen for the complex with a large hall for gatherings, but Hise said no regular meal program will be offered.

Penn Manor was one of 46 housing projects competing for $33.8 million in loans in HUD's Southern California region, which stretches from north of Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, according to Joe Hirsch, executive director of the agency's Los Angeles office. Federal housing money, he said, can be spent on land acquisition, construction and architectural and city building fees.

Abrams officials hope to break ground on their end of the development next spring, said Mark Abrams, president of the firm. The retirement residence may open as early as January, 1987.

Dining Facility Planned

The 100,000-square-foot project will be four stories, with a garden area for walking and sitting, a large dining facility where daily meals will be served, and several retail shops catering to the elderly. Abrams envisions a florist, a pharmacy or tailor operating on the ground floor of the project.

Most of the 158 units will have one bedroom. Abrams said there has been a shift in retirement residences away from the more traditional studio or "efficiency" apartments, where the kitchenette, living room and bedroom are in one room.

"By separating the bedroom from the living area, most people feel it's more like a home, than a box with four walls," Abrams said.

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