RDA gets mixed news on Beech Street properties

The City of Warren Redevelopment Authority received mixed news about two Beech Street parcels on Thursday.

The two parcels – 304 and 306 Beech Street – were obtained by Habitat for Humanity and the Warren-Forest Economic Opportunities Council, respectively.

Lyn Pryor, the EOC’s Director of Community Development, told the RDA that they received a grant to survey the parcel as well as complete some design and construction work.

He told the RDA that their intent is to build a home outfitted to serve handicapped individuals.

“We want to make it totally comprehensive,” he said. “(We are) going to do some things we haven’t done in the past.”

In addition to those in wheel chairs, Pryor said the home would be accommodated to meet the needs of deaf or hearing-impaired individuals, as well. To that end, for example, he said that doorbells, smoke detectors and CO detectors are now available that flash a light so that a hearing-impaired person can still be made aware. In addition, plans include reinforcing the ceilings so that the appropriate medical device can be used if a person can’t transfer from a bed to a chair.

“We want to try to accommodate all this up front,” Pryor said, nothing that the house would be one story, have two bedrooms and be completed in a way similar to the home built at 1205 Pennsylvania Ave. W. in Warren or the two in Youngsville across the street from the elementary school.

He added that they would likely be ready to break ground this summer and have the construction funding in hand, also via a state grant.

At 304 Beech Street, Bernard Hessley, president of the Habitat for Humanity board, said that they have been working with the EOC but “think we’ve kind of run into a problem with Beech Street.”

While the EOC will likely break ground this summer, Hessley said “we are on a much slower time frame.”

He told the RDA that they have been partnering with the Warren County Career Center for the constructions of the homes that they place.

“The problem we run into is we have to transport our home in two sections,” Hessley said, noting that there might not be adequate space to complete that transfer.

“I don’t know that we are going to be able to make use of that property,” he said. “It’s a real concern for us. That lot is small. We’re not sure exactly how to proceed at this point.”

Hessley said that the Habitat board will be meeting next in May and said they might be able to hammer out more concrete plans then.

RDA member Randy Rossey pointed out that they have until 2019 to break ground and that the RDA is open to working with them. He added that it “wouldn’t sour the relationship with Habitat” if the parcel ultimately is unsuitable, suggesting that the city’s blighted property process could present other parcel options.