As winter advances, so does progress on Grace Place

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Progress continues at a rapid rate on the Grace Place senior living apartment complex located at Pine Street and North Gilpin Street as numerous public officials, including Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, 5th Congressional district, along with Rep. Sam Smith, speaker of the Pennsylvania House, received a tour Friday.

Thompson said Grace Place being constructed in Punxsy, and not out of town, makes it a great asset to the community.

"Most people as they age will stay in place in their home, but for some folks it becomes challenging to maintain their house," he said, adding that Grace Place is apartment living for seniors who qualify based on income.

The 24 units that are under construction are beautiful, spacious, accessible — great resources, Thompson said.

"I don't want to see people move 40 miles away from where their home was located and where they raised their children, to enjoy part of their retirement years," he said. "I want to offer my congratulations to all the folks in the community who had this vision and the contractors who really made this come together."

Thompson said he worked for 30 years in serving older adults, in rehabilitation and as a licensed nursing home administrator, and that the quality of housing was not very high.

"The early models for senior housing were almost like dormitories in college," Thompson said, adding that most of the units had cinder- block walls; there was limited square footag; and residents were limited as to what they could bring from home.

"This is not that model; this is a new era in the type of construction for senior housing," Thompson said.

Tim Spence, interim executive director for the Jefferson Area Lutheran Social Ministry (JALSM), said construction is ahead of schedule, and JALSM is accepting applications.

The $6.5 million project is being constructed by JALSM and Trek Development.

Rep. Sam Smith, Pennsylvania speaker of the house, said Grace Place is a terrific addition to downtown Punxsutawney.

“It's going to be beneficial to the community for many years to come,” Smith said, adding that he wants to thank “Tim (Spence) for his foresight and drive to see this project through.”

April 13, the former Parente's Recreation and a vacant home were torn down at the site to make way for the apartment complex.

Katherine Stamler, Grace Place site manager, said for a one-bedroom apartment the rent maximums are below $500 per month, and for two bedrooms it's below $600.

There are 24 units in the complex, and there are 52 names on the interested list, Stamler said, adding that all utilities are included in the rent, except for television, phone and Internet.

The complex will be heated by geo-thermal energy.

"We drilled 18 water wells for the heating and cooling system in the old parking lot," Spence said, adding that the contractor, Mistick Construction of Pittsburgh, specializes in quality fast-track construction and looks to complete the project ahead of schedule.
Spence said the apartment complex will be open and ready for tenants by the end of the year.

Also in attendance were John Ginocchi, TREK Development; Tom Harley, Upstreet Architects; Jeff Anderson, vice-president, Mistick Construction, Jefferson County Commissioners Paul Corbin, Jim McIntyre and Jeff Pisarcik; and Mark Adams, representing state Sen. Joe Scarnati's office.

For more information about Grace Place, call 938-3008.