The next step in the use of the former junior high school property in Kittanning came into focus at last night’s Kittanning Borough Council meeting.
William J. Gatti, President of Trek Development Group, outlined a plan to build a miniature high-rise that will be for senior citizens, ages 62 and older.
Trek Development owns and operates two senior residential communities that include Kittanning Cottages in Kittanning Borough and Valley View Apartments in Manor Township.
Gatti said that the North McKean Street property would be additional senior residences.
“We were initially invited to take a look at the Kittanning school site,” Gatti began. “The conversations began a few years ago when the school buildings were still standing, but were vacant at the time. We had some conversations, but then we felt like the leadership needed to decide where they wanted to go with it. The decision was made and now the building is (demolished).
“We proposed a couple of different ideas. We talked about family housing for awhile and conversion of home ownership. That was not met with a resounding yes. So we re-thought it. Since we have had such a great experience with Valley View and Kittanning Cottages, we felt like another senior facility focusing on the needs of folks 62 years of age and older, that there was sufficient demand to produce another building. So our first approach was more of a cottage-style development. It wasn’t universally supported either.”
Gatti said his company is ready to collaborate with the local historical society in the former junior high playground/parking lot that is adjacent to the Society’s property.
“The one issue was the Historical Society and their interest in the Great Lawn area. So we are proposing a single (multi-story) building; then we can condense the area we are building on, and leave alone that parking lot the Historical Society is interested in.
“Taking it one step further, we could buy it all from the Armstrong County IDC, then grade, seed and donate that (lawn area) back to the Historical Society. Then they are that much more ahead of the game. We try to pay attention to not just the four corners of what we are building, but the broader community.”
Gatti’s plan would be to erect a three or four story building. He showed examples of projects that have been built in Punxsutawney and Tarentum which were similar to their proposal for Kittanning. It would have one and two bedroom units.
Gatti said the former school was a much bigger building than what he is proposing.
“Near it are commercial buildings and offices. So we feel it is appropriate and it will fit well and be a source of pride for many years to come.”
Council voted 5-2 in favor of the project with Joe Kiehlmeier and Michael Johns voting no.
Kiehlmeier voiced his opposition, indicating he felt the decision was rushed and would have rather seen the property used for commercial rather than residential since it is located in the Central Business District.
Gatti hopes to have paperwork submitted to the State in November with the facility being built by 2021.