Townhouses on tap for Ruskin area

A Hollidaysburg developer is planning a $1.2 million, nine-unit townhouse project for Beckman Drive in the Ruskin area, where neighbors opposed – and the city Zoning Hearing Board denied a variance for – an apartment project.

There’s no zoning prohibition to prevent Andrew Swope of Keystone Custom Homes and Development Inc. from building townhouses there.

After Swope lost the zoning case, he decided to build two-story townhouses targeted to young professionals but has since tentatively shifted his plans toward one-story units aimed at seniors who aren’t ready to move to nursing homes.

“We’ve been getting so many calls,” he said. “There’s so much demand.”

He estimated the units would rent for $750 to $850 a month.

He is planning to build the townhouses in two sections, one with five units, one with four, according to city senior planner Nic Ardizzone.

If they’re one-story, they’ll be about 1,500 square feet per unit, Swope said.

If he reverts to the original two-story design, they’ll probably be about 1,800 square feet – though not as deep front-to-back and maybe not as wide, Swope said.

Based on the Uniform Construction Code, he’ll need to make one or two units convertible to handicap accessibility, he said.

He hopes to get land development approval from the city Planning Commission within two months.

Construction could take eight to 12 months.

He’s been planning the project on ground purchased from the Pennington family for a year and is funding it privately.

He is familiar with the area.

He owns all six condominiums in a nearby building on Beckman Drive and not long ago finished construction on a group of several townhouses on nearby South Terrace Drive started by local engineer Gabe Pellegrini, who gave them up in lieu of foreclosure, according to Swope.

They were about 60 percent complete when Swope began work.

He had to replace floor joists because of warping because they sat for a couple of years, he said.

More recently, Swope built a 32-unit, eight-building apartment complex in Hollidaysburg, and he plans a similar 36-unit project for Roaring Spring.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.