The Beech Street Factory combines affordable apartments with a community arts center to rejuvenate a forgotten Pottstown landmark. The proposed $12.5 million redevelopment of the vacant Fecera’s Furniture warehouse at 341 Beech Street proposes to convert the empty 60,000 space at 341 Beech Street into 43 apartments, lots of resident amenity space, and the 3,000-square-foot new home of ArtFusion, Pottstown’s well-known community art school and gallery.
The project developers are Housing Visions, a not-for-profit real estate development company based in Upstate New York, and Genesis Housing Corporation, a long-time redeveloper of single-family homes in Pottstown. Together, these two revitalization organizations have partnered to turn the empty Fecera’s warehouse into a lively cornerstone of the Pottstown arts community.
Housing Visions knows what it takes to revitalize neighborhoods. The non-profit company, founded in Syracuse, NY in 1990, has developed more than 300 buildings totaling 1,000 units of affordable housing in 9 Upstate New York cities. The key to neighborhood revitalization is balance — hiring architects who design renovations in keeping with the neighborhood architecture; providing an appropriate mix of commercial and residential use; and, as a property manager, applying strict universal standards to all prospective tenants. Regardless of their income source, all tenants must meet the same standards in order to qualify for residency. Unfortunately, not all applicants will qualify.
The apartments at the Beech Street Factory will be marketed to artists and other qualified tenants. Housing Visions’ on-site, full-time Property Manager will perform the following checks on each applicant: 1) Income qualification; 2) Credit check; 3) Criminal background check; 4) In-person interview; 5) Prior landlord interview. In our 20 years of development and property management experience, this process has proven a reliable method for selecting high-quality tenants who will contribute to the building’s sense of community and promote neighborhood pride.
The developers of the Beech Street Factory have applied for funding through the PA housing tax credit program and the U.S. historic tax credit program, and have received commitments of County funding support. The County funding supports the development of six units for individuals with developmental disabilities or mental health concerns who are actively enrolled in supportive programs through Montgomery County. In addition, the Beech Street Factory will create a more inclusive community by designing six apartments for residents with mobility impairments, and two units for individuals with hearing/vision loss. By designing housing around the needs of the whole community, we ensure that the Beech Street Factory apartments can be an engaging community for people of many ages, abilities, and interests.
The resident amenities at the Beech Street Factory are numerous — a private landscaped courtyard, computer lab, community room/gallery, on-site laundry, individual basement storage lockers, secure entry, designated off-street parking, and high-quality finishes such as exposed-brick walls and wooden columns and beams. Works of art by members of ArtFusion will be featured prominently throughout the residential space, from the community room/gallery space to the lobby and hallways.
Each year, Housing Visions will provide 10 ArtFusion memberships for residents of the Beech Street Factory, as well as 10 community scholarships for non-residents to take classes at ArtFusion. Our collective hope is that the Beech Street Factory will serve as a neighborhood anchor for the arts, catalyzing a Pottstown Arts District between Beech Street and High Street.