Major expansion possible at Immaculate Mary Home

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia had no problem finding potential buyers when in August 2013 it announced its intention to sell its seven nursing and assisted living homes, including the Immaculate Mary Home in Holme Circle. Some 30 companies reportedly placed initial bids on the properties, with Center Management Group of Flushing, New York, emerging as the successful bidder 19 months ago.

But neighbors of the Immaculate Mary Home seem to be having a bit of a time pinning down Center Management now that the Holme Circle facility may be in the early stages of a major physical expansion.

During the Jan. 27 meeting of the Holme Circle Civic Association, state Rep. Ed Neilson told residents that Center Management is looking to refurbish and expand the Immaculate Mary Home, but the company has no specific plans and has not applied for building permits. The home is at 2990 Holme Ave.

Neilson said that he and City Councilman Bobby Henon met with Charles-Edouard Gros, Center Management’s founder and CEO, last month after their constituents began asking questions about apparent contracting work on the Immaculate Mary grounds. Neighbors have seen what appeared to be surveying work on the IMH property recently.

Some neighbors sought to have Gros as a guest speaker at last week’s civic meeting, but Neilson and leaders of the civic group agreed to delay a formal invitation to Gros until more definitive information is available. Neilson said he expects to coordinate a meeting involving Gros and leaders of the Holme Circle and Winchester Park civic groups as soon as possible. He also hopes that Gros will speak at a future public meeting of the civic groups.

Reached by telephone last Thursday, a spokeswoman for Center Management told the Northeast Times, “Center Management has the intention of speaking to the community. Right now it’s in the very preliminary stages. When the time is right, we plan to work with the community fully and get community input.”

When Gros spoke privately with Neilson and Henon, the CEO said that Center Management will be seeking to create more single-occupancy rooms in the home. Immaculate Mary had about 300 resident beds before the 2014 sale, according to the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. Center Management also wants to grow its outpatient care and rehabilitation facilities, Neilson said. The company offered the elected officials two assurances: that it wouldn’t build higher than the existing four stories and that it wouldn’t create additional vehicle entrances or exits. Gros also said that he would inform Henon and Neilson before applying for construction permits, Neilson said.

In unrelated Holme Circle Civic Association business:

• State Sen. John Sabatina reported that lawmakers have made little progress in passing the state’s long-delayed fiscal 2016 budget, which is seven months past due. Although Gov. Tom Wolf has released funding for certain vital services including education, legislators are in “gridlock” on a complete budget, Sabatina said. Wolf is scheduled to deliver his proposed fiscal 2017 budget address on Feb. 9. There has been some discussion in Harrisburg about trying to create a two-year budget covering 2016 and 2017.

Separately, the state Senate voted to downsize the state House of Representatives from 203 members to 151 members, but the Senate did not take up a companion bill proposed in the House to reduce the Senate from 50 seats to 37.

• The civic association tabled action on a zoning application involving a twin home at 2817 Shelley Road. The owner was not on hand to make a presentation. The application is for the conversion of a garage into a new kitchen and dining area, as well as the expansion of the driveway. One neighbor reported that the city cited the property on Nov. 30 for two violations, leading neighbors to believe that work had already begun without permits. ••