Story by Duane Good, Editor
former POS of A Lodge building (left) and Lykens Hotel are
fixtures of the downtown Lykens square. (Sentinel file
has been secured for the future purchase renovation of the
former Lykens Hotel and POS of A buildings located downtown
on the borough’s square.
Lykens Community Development Corporation, owner of both
properties, and Rochester, N.Y.-based Home Leasing LLC,
which was on board for the purchase and upgrade, were
informed May 14 that the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
has approved a request for financing to underwrite the
conversion of the two buildings into modern apartments,
offices and retail space.
Specific dollar amounts were not available as of
press time May 18. Work reportedly is scheduled to begin this
The project had the support of the Dauphin County
Commissioners, the county’s Redevelopment Authority (which is
working in partnership with Home Leasing) and U.S. Rep Lou Barletta,
along with Lykens Borough Council, state Rep. Mike Tobash and Mid
‘‘Lykens Community Development is excited at the
news; although prior funding applications didn’t yield funding,
the group believed it was only a matter of time, said Kevin Jury,
the corporation’s current president.
‘‘We are thrilled that this project will now move
forward, with construction beginning this summer,’’ said Nelson
Leenhouts, Home Leasing’s chairman and CEO. ‘‘We greatly appreciate
the support that we have received from so many, and especially Don
Sauve and the Lykens Chamber of Commerce, for their patience and
‘‘More information concerning costs and financing
will be available in a few weeks,’’ he said.
‘‘We really appreciate Home Leasing staying committed
to the project for all these years,’’ said George Connor, deputy
director of the county Department of Community and Economic
‘‘We can now move forward with this project and start
to see some economic development (in the Lykens area). This project
will be the foundation for development in the future for Lykens and
the surrounding communities,’’ Connor added.
Barletta, who had written to the PHFA urging support
for the project, submitted this response.
“The old Lykens Hotel can once again be a catalyst
for the downtown area. As a former mayor, I know how important a
project like this can be for the life of a small town. Saving
history is important, and so is economic development.
‘‘I am very pleased to see that our efforts have
helped this project move forward for the good of the entire region.
This has been a labor of love for the Dauphin County Commissioners,
all local elected officials who have been involved, and the people
of Lykens who have stood behind this project. I congratulate them
on their success and wish them luck as they move forward.”
Background. Once completed, there will be 28
apartment units – described as ‘‘affordable’’ – available between
the two buildings, in addition to the office and retail space.
Jury previously told the Sentinel that the intent is
to preserve as much of the two buildings’ facades and specific
interior touches as much as possible.
‘‘We’re hoping the hotel’s tile floors can be
retained and that the lobby can be restored to give people a feeling
as to what it was,’’ he said in an article published in the March 17
issue. (The roof was replaced in 2006.)
The hotel has been unoccupied since the 1980s. More
recently, the former Patriotic Order Sons of America Lodge building
once housed one of the area’s two Deibler’s Drug Store branches.
The former Lykens Public School building on Second
Street was part of the project, but has been taken out, Jury
‘‘It was not cost-effective to keep it in,’’ Jury
said in March.
Home Leasing has dubbed the endeavor the Union House
Project, named after a hotel that preceded the former Lykens Hotel
at the same site.
Outline of project presented. Jury provided the
Sentinel with a copy of a project outline developed by Home Leasing,
LLC in partnership with the Dauphin County Redevelopment Authority.
‘‘This project is the number one community
revitalization priority for the Borough and will have dramatic
impact on the community. The adaptive reuse of the buildings into
apartments will help create a vibrant, attractive community, reduce
blight, and follow smart growth principles,’’ the outline stated.
‘‘The restoration of these important historic
structures will serve as a catalyst to promote neighborhood
stabilization and encourage further investment in the community.
Union House Apartments will provide quality, affordable housing for
local families who work at businesses within the community.
‘‘This project will promote growth and stability
within the community by creating jobs, increasing the tax base,
reducing blight and creating high-quality safe and affordable
housing for residents of the Borough and Dauphin County,’’ the
‘‘The collaborative efforts of the community
government and local organizations serve as a model for maximizing
the leverage of private and public investment in a community with
‘‘Of the total development costs, the County
committed $500,000,’’ the letter continued. ‘‘Equity raised from low
income housing tax credits coupled with Federal Historic Tax Credits
will help maximize leveraging of resources. The Federal Home Loan
Bank of Pittsburgh has awarded $250,000 to the project. Five Section
8 Project Based Vouchers are committed to assure affordability to
those with the most need. The borough has provided (tax) and sewer
and water abatement.
‘‘Union House Apartments will be designated for
general occupancy by households with incomes at or below 20 percent,
50 percent or 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). The Lykens
community has limited affordable housing production and a high
owner-occupied market, leaving few options for renters. The project
specific capture rates are approximately three percent and overall
market capture rate of evidencing a strong need for affordable
‘‘The two buildings will include studios, one and two
bedroom apartments. Unit amenities will include apartments with open
floor plans, modern kitchen designs with Energy-Star appliances and
central air conditioning,’’ the outline stated. ‘‘There will be an
elevator in the Lykens Hotel and increased accessibility at each
building. There will be on-site leasing, supportive service and
maintenance offices, community room with kitchenette, a computer
lab, onsite laundry facilities on and off-street parking and
improved facade along Main Street.
‘‘National Parks Service standards will be followed
for the historic adaptive reuse,’’ the letter continued. ‘‘Union
House Apartments is nearby critical services. Supportive services
will be provided by the Upper Dauphin County Human Services Center
in concert with the resident service coordinator on staff.
‘‘Within walking distance of Union House Apartments
there are restaurants, a grocery store, a community center, a day
care facility, public parks, a library, basic health care, a
pharmacy, employment opportunities, a gas station and convenience
store,’’ the letter also stated.
‘‘Union House Apartments project contributes to
neighborhood improvement and encourages further investment within
the community in concert with other planned improvements,’’ the
letter stated. ‘‘This project will complement the recently completed
Lykens Valley Rail-Trail, the proposed Lykens Public Improvement
Project, the Lykens and Wiconisco Field Restoration project and the
$1.2 million Rattling Creek stabilization project.’’