Developer discusses challenges of building multi-family housing at reasonable cost
“A lot of these things just add time and money when we need housing now,” Ben Lesher said.
Lesher was speaking to an audience at Hub 450, wrapping up a presentation on The Yards, the project he is developing at the Stockyard Inn site at the corner of Lititz Pike and Marshall Avenue.
The reality of development today, he told his audience, is that it’s relentlessly time-consuming and expensive — and it’s expensive in part because the approval process is so protracted.
That in turn is creating barriers to building new housing at the scale and at the price points that studies say are needed, he said.
Advocates say Lancaster County has a shortage of nearly 20,000 homes that households in the lower half of the income distribution can afford. Lancaster city’s interim housing plan, meanwhile, calls for adding 2,000 residential units by the end of 2026, including 300 affordable units.
There are good intentions behind all the rules and restrictions that developers contend with, Lesher said at the presentation, held late last month. Still, he said, “at some point, I think we need to think as a community, what do we prioritize? What do we want?”