The owners of 250 College Avenue brought a rezoning petition to Lancaster City Council committee on August 3, followed by a public reading on August 11, a public hearing on August 27, and a second reading on September 8, leading to the adoption of the rezoning ordinance. The seller, UPMC, reached agreement with a buyer and principal developer, Washington Place Equities (WPE) and HDC MidAtlantic, Lancaster’s largest local affordable housing developer, as a partner. The City has asked WPE to be as transparent as possible in sharing their plans for the site. Since late last year, the City Administration has been engaged in extensive negotiations with UPMC and prospective developers to ensure that public policy goals will be met through the redevelopment. The City Planning Commission, the City Council, and numerous advocates and stakeholders have played an essential role in shaping an exciting mixed-use, mixed-income vision.
WPE and HDC have developed a plan to integrate more than 100 affordable units into this plan, the largest affordable housing development in Lancaster City in decades, at a time when housing supply is low nationwide and rent increases outpace income growth for working families. More than 30 percent of total housing units developed under this master plan will be designated affordable, a benchmark that beats aggressive inclusionary zoning targets in cities around the country.
In addition to providing affordable housing, the initial project concept will preserve historic mid-20th century buildings, provide market-rate rental and home ownership options, retail and office space marketed to locally-owned businesses, will sustain existing medical services across the street on College Avenue, integrate green and sustainable business practices and reactivate an entire city block that currently sits vacant and underutilized.
WPE and HDC are committed to continually engage the community as the project evolves. Next, the project team will begin studying the site’s geography, soils, building conditions, zoning, utilities, and other engineering matters ahead of submitting any requests to the City.
UPMC Hospital Redevelopment: Recent History & Planning Process
This summarizes the recent history and planning process around the closure and potential redevelopment of the UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster Hospital. The Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) and City ordinances govern the rezoning and land development process outlined below.
UPMC Pinnacle Announces Closure of UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster
December 11, 2018
Seventeen months after acquiring the 214-bed hospital at 250 College Avenue UPMC announced the hospital’s closure on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. The UPMC Express Care office across the street began offering expanded hours. No plans or future use of the property were announced. (See Document #1)
UPMC Pinnacle Permanently Closes Hospital
February 28, 2019
The UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster Hospital closed the hospital at 7am on Thursday, February 28, 2019, consolidating emergency and inpatient offerings at its Lititz hospital. No plans or future use of the property were announced. (See Document #2)
City of Lancaster Hosts Public Input Meeting
May 20, 2019
The City administration hosted a public meeting in City Council Chambers to solicit input from residents about what they “want to see on site” and “do not want on site.” This information would inform future land use decisions. City officials provided an overview of the regulations that govern the site and the tools the City has to influence its future. Any new use of the property would require a rezoning. An estimated 80 members of the public attended. (See Document #3)
UPMC Pinnacle Submits Zoning Petition
December 12, 2019
UPMC submitted a rezoning petition to the City of Lancaster’s Planning Commission for a December 18 meeting. UPMC announced it did not anticipate another hospital use and requested a change from Hospital Complex District to Mixed Use Zoning, which would accommodate a wide variety of residential, commercial and related uses. (See Documents #4-5)
City Planning Commission Votes to Table Rezoning Petition
December 18, 2019
UPMC legal counsel presented their request to rezone the site for mixed use, arguing that Hospital Complex District zoning is highly restrictive. City Planning Staff provided an analysis of various master planning efforts, which they said supported the rezoning to Mixed Use. The Commission voted 4-0 to table the agenda item for further discussion so they could include absent Planning Commission members and gather more input from the public. An estimated 30 members of the public attended. (See Documents #6-8)
Lancaster County Planning Commission Recommends Rezoning
January 6, 2020
The Lancaster County Planning Commission reviewed and voted to recommend the rezoning petition submitted by UPMC Pinnacle. They found the proposal consistent with the Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan Places 2040 and the City’s Intermunicipal Comprehensive Plan Growing Together. Furthermore, LCPC made three recommendations to the City: 1) require a site master plan to ensure resident concerns are addressed, 2) adopt an official map to ensure certain transportation improvements, and 3) apply a Complete Streets Policy to the site. (See Document #9)
City Planning Revisits Petition & Recommends Rezoning
January 15, 2020
The City provided in-depth policy analysis supporting the rezoning and an overview of extensive conversations with UPMC, healthcare providers, and potential developers regarding regional healthcare and city affordable housing, which is outlined in a memo from Director of Community Planning & Economic Development Chris Delfs to the Planning Commission. The memo also announced that two developers were interested in developing multi-family residential plus offices on the site and that UPMC had verbally agreed to provide its 0.37-acre property at 213 College Ave. for affordable housing, which could accommodate about 30 units. After three hours of discussion, the City Planning Commission voted 8-0 to recommend rezoning the hospital property from Hospital Complex District to Mixed Use District, moving the issue to City Council for a final decision. (See Documents #10-14)
Significant Next Steps In Rezoning & Redevelopment Process
While the rezoning is a significant step in the redevelopment process and determines the types of uses that can occur on the property, there remains a lengthy development process that will involve many public meetings over the course of a year or more before final approvals are issued by the City Planning Commission. Below is a list of the most significant public meetings that will take place, which are in the approximate order they would take place from top to bottom. Specific plan features may require approval by other City authorities, boards, and commissions, such as the Traffic Commission and Shade Tree Commission, which are not listed here.
Rezoning Process Next Steps
The existing zoning does not permit residential and commercial activity, according to the City’s Zoning ordinance, Chapter 300, so the property needs to be rezoned in order to permit those uses. The hospital already submitted a petition for rezoning per the MPC, which triggered the Planning Commission’s review and recommendation to City Council. The remaining public meetings are as follows:
– City Council Committee discusses rezoning petition for the first time.
– City Council conducts a Public Hearing and a 1st reading of the rezoning ordinance.
– City Council has a 2nd reading of the rezoning ordinance and considers it for adoption.
Historical Commission Recommends Certificate of Appropriateness to City Council
The hospital parcel is within the Heritage Conservation District governed by the Historic Districts Ordinance Chapter 155, which requires that the Historical Commission reviews all proposed demolitions and new construction. The developer is required to submit an application detailing the reasons for any demolition and providing extensive information on new construction, including visual renderings, architectural elevations, and building materials. The Commission makes a determination based on the Secretary of Interior’s Standards. Typically, this process includes the following public meetings:
– Historical Commission holds a conceptual review of any proposed demolition and new construction.
– Historical Commission holds a formal review of any proposed demolition and new construction. This may require 1 or more meetings before a formal vote occurs.
– City Council Committee discusses the recommendations from the Historical Commission.
– City Council considers a final vote on the recommendations from the Historical Commission.
City and County Planning Commissions’ Approvals for Preliminary & Final Land Development
The developer is required to submit a land development plan in accordance with the MPC and the City’s Subdivision & Land Development Ordinance, Chapter 265, which outlines the required improvements and design standards that the development must meet (e.g., curb, sidewalks, trees, park space), as well as the process for that approval. The City’s staff and Planning Commission review all plans extensively. County Planning also reviews for consistency with countywide and intermunicipal master plans. Typically, this process includes the following public meetings:
– Lancaster County Planning Commission votes on an advisory recommendation for the preliminary land development plan.
– City Planning Commission has 90-days to act on a preliminary plan. Staff will review and recommend an action to Planning Commission, which may take one or more public meetings before a formal vote.
– Lancaster County Planning Commission votes on an advisory recommendation for the final land development plan.
– Upon submission, Planning Commission has 90-days to act on a final plan. Staff will review and recommend an action to Planning Commission, which may take one or more meetings before a formal vote occurs.
Documents for Reference
Document #5 – 12/11/19 UPMC Rezoning Petition submitted to City
Document #8 – 12/18/19 City Planning Commission Agenda & Minutes
Document #11 – 1/15/20 City Staff UPMC Rezoning Presentation
Document #13 – 1/15/20 City Planning Commission Agenda & Minutes