Charles Everhardt

Charles Everhardt of Lockwood Development Partners holds a poster outlining development plans for the former St. Francis Hospital at a city council caucus meeting last night.

Let’s try this again.

Developer Charles Everhardt wants New Castle residents to know his plans for the former St. Francis Hospital will not include a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center or housing for homeless veterans.

Those two areas created a “level of confusion,” Everhardt said.

“If we had to start over again, we wouldn’t be trying to introduce those two elements.”

He will be returning to City Council at its 6:30 p.m. caucus Tuesday to address any concerns the public or council has about his veterans project. He will also bring informational materials.

“I tried to make it clear that all we wanted to do was long-term care, senior-assisted living primarily for veterans,” he said of his last appearance at council June 11. “We would open it up to the general public in the event there wasn’t enough veterans to fill the facility.

“Our focus was to support veterans and an education program, which also would be focused on veterans.”

From the beginning, the effort was filled with missteps. Members of the city’s Planning Commission, council members and city solicitor Jason Medure weren’t sure what to make of the program. What was or wasn’t in it?

Everhardt and his two partners want to open the New Castle Community Wellness Center. Operating under New Castle Real Estate LLC, he purchased the property from UPMC in April for $25,000. His original request was for a conditional use request for a wellness center, apartments and studio apartments at 1000 S. Mercer St. and general surroundings in an R-2 Medium Density Residential District.

Toward the conclusion of the public hearing, Medure expressed his irritation.

“I really wouldn’t have any choice but to recommend a denial, simply because we have absolutely no idea what you’re doing,” he said at the session.

Medure will issue a report on his findings to council. An attempt to reach him last night for additional comment was unsuccessful.

“There is confusion in the marketplace as to what we’re trying to accomplish,” Everhardt said. “We don’t like all these mixed signals.”

Everhardt has narrowed his focus to senior veterans and education while working under the VA Mission Act of 2018.

“We’re trying to do something good for the neighborhood, good for the merchants, good for the overall community and good for the veterans,” he said. “We’re not looking to do something that rubs against the grain of the community.”

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