Grande Palazzo plans $35M addition

Expansion will house 195 independent living units, includes 2-story parking garage

The developer of the Graystone Grande Palazzo senior living facility is planning a $35 million, nine-story addition to be constructed in an Eighth Avenue parking lot across from the back of the existing complex.

The 300,000 square-foot addition will house 195 independent living units and a two-story parking garage and will connect with the current structure by an enclosed bridge over Eighth Avenue, Jeff Long said Wednesday, after a hearing before the city zoning board, which gave Long the go-ahead.

Long decided to build the addition six months ago, based on better-than-expected demand for the existing 142 independent living units at the Grande Palazzo, which also includes 68 units for assisted living, he said.

The board granted setback and height variances.

The setbacks will match those of the nearby Puritan building on Eighth Avenue and mirror those on the Grande Palazzo, said Long’s consulting engineer, John Sepp of Penn Terra Engineering.

The 15-foot height variance for the 115-foot tall building is justified because the building will include two parking floors, while otherwise mirroring a segment of the complex across the avenue, Long said.

The variances are needed because the proposed building would be a residential use in a light industrial zone, according to Zoning Hearing Board officials.

A request by Long for the city to vacate a section of alley to accommodate the project is pending, according to Rebecca Brown, director of the Department of Codes & Inspections.

At one time, Long had planned eventually to include a nursing home component in the Grande Palazzo project, but no longer, he said.

A nursing home component would have created a vertically integrated complex in which residents could reside in an independent living unit while still in middle age, then move to assisted living as needed and finally to the nursing home section as needed.

COVID-19 “changed my outlook” — given the staffing and regulation challenges it exposed, Long said.

COVID-19 was catastrophic for many nursing homes, due to the contagiousness of the virus and the vulnerability of older people.

It aggravated a pre-existing, nationwide staffing shortage, according to the AARP. The pandemic led to worker burnout, while the threat of COVID-19 vaccine mandates has caused many workers to leave.

Long does not plan to use government funding for the project, he said.

He hopes to break ground in April for work that will take 18 months.

The building will look much like the existing complex, Long said. It will be U-shaped, with the opening facing Eighth Avenue.

The back side, parallel to the North Branch railroad tracks along Ninth Avenue, will be 380 feet long, while the wings will be 200 feet deep.

It will be metal frame, with masonry exterior, covered with stucco, according to Long.

There will be a rooftop patio, a half-basketball court and bocce court, along with an indoor-outdoor lounge on the roof, and a pickleball facility indoors.

The bridge will allow residents to access facilities and other units in the rest of the complex, Long said.

Long’s proposal “is great for the city,” said Mayor Matt Pacifico, who attended the hearing.

The area around the Grande Palazzo is an “up and coming neighborhood,” Pacifico said.

Planned and existing developments nearby include “The Mill,” built by a partnership that includes members of the L.S. Fiore family, and a Durbin townhouse project.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.


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