The Pottstown Youth Centre was started in 1944 by Stanley M.
Hallman as a non-profit ministry and as an extension of the local
church, to be a place where youth from various churches could
meet and fellowship in a Christian atmosphere. As the years went
by, the Youth Centre became more of a family center, working
together with local churches to develop programs and activities
which were not provided by the churches.
In 1964, PYC added a large recreational park - Beulah Land Swim Club, complete
with swimming pools, tennis courts, ball fields, picnicking, and other outdoor facilities. In 1970 Stan Hallman's son, J. Wilmer "Wil" Hallman, came with PYC full time as Stan retired.
As Wil worked with churches and pastors, he asked about the
needs of their congregations that the church was not abl e to meet.
A nondenominational Christian school was high on their lists.
PYC developed a school, West-Mont Christian Academy in 1980, which went on to grow and become independent of PYC
and presently has a student body of over 350 in Grades Pre-K-
12 and their own campus in North Coventry Township.
In 1982, as PYC outgrew their 20,000 square foot building in
Pottstown, PYC built a new 40,000 square foot gym, recreation
and classroom building on their Beulah Land Park grounds in
Lower Pottsgrove Township.
As PYC's ministry continued to expand, Wil again approached
area pastors and community leaders about the needs of the community and it became evident that affordable housing for senior citizens was a large need. After visiting and studying the various types of retirement communities available, Wil realized that there must be an entirely new approach to retirement living if it was to be affordable to moderate income seniors. A vision and many ideas were coming together, but getting it up and running would be a whole different matter.
In 1986 Wil was invited to "A Senior Housing Task Force" to
develop housing for the moderate income elderly for I.C.D.C.
(Interfaith Community Development Corporation). I.C.D.C. was
a non-profit organization located in Pottstown, PA. dedicated to
providing affordable housing for low to moderate income people.
As the work progressed to develop senior housing, it became
obvious why moderate income senior housing was unavailable;
the profit motive was not there.
Low income senior housing is desirable to developers because
tax money is available to subsidize the building of living units, and
tax money is available to subsidize low income individuals with
their living costs. However, the people whose needs the task
force were trying to meet had too much income or assets to
qualify for this type of housing and assistance. On the other hand,
the "traditional" retirement community is also desirable to
developers because of the ability to set the entrance fees and
monthly service fees high, and in most cases, keep most or all of
the entrance fee when the resident leaves. This organizational
structure provides these communities with a large profit (even
though they are non-profit organizations) which then is typically
used to expand the organization. Again, however, the moderate
income seniors that the task force was trying to minister to could
not afford the high entrance and monthly fees and even if they
could, they didn't want their life's savings (children's inheritance)
to be kept by the retirement community. Wil said he wanted to
help people, "too rich to be poor , and too poor to be rich".
Wil's approach to an affordable senior housing community was
simple. Build a beautiful high quality community by adding the
costs of construction, land, housing, infrastructure, a community
center and all capital improvements together, then divide that
number by the square foot costs to build the facility. The residents
then pay their "square foot" portion of the entire community as
their entrance fee. When they leave, they, or their estate, get 90%
or 100% of their entrance fee returned when their unit is resold
for that same amount or more. Any proceeds that SRC receives
in such transactions are used for renovations and future
improvements. Monthly fees in this type of community can also be
less than other communities because they are based solely on
operational costs (no bank mortgage or medical facility costs).
Monthly fees include taxes, sewer, water, trash, snow removal,
mowing, maintenance inside and out, community center
operations and staff. With no bottom line profits for developers
and banks, this project was not desireable for developers and
appeared "risky" to those institutions who would be needed to
finance the construction phases (banks make their money on long
In 1988 a not-for-profit organization named Sanatoga Ridge
Community was formed and it then purchased approximately 10
acres near the Pottstown Youth Centre/ Beulah Land Swim Club
in Sanatoga, PA.
Wil Hallman was elected President of SRC. For the reasons
listed previously, Wil and the SRC Board spent about 4 years
listening to bankers give well wishes to SRC and statements like;
"this is really needed", "great idea", "keep up the good work",
with many promises, but no willingness to lend money. Finally,
with the help of private lenders, SRC had ground breaking on
August 28, 1993, and the first units were occupied in June of
1994. Since that date, the project and community has blossomed
and grown. The entire original 80 unit project, including the
20,000 sq.ft. Community Center, was built and sold out as fast as
the units could be completed. Since then, SRC has purchased all available adjacent land to meet the continuing demand. Today, SRC has approximately 50 acres with over 225 units fully occupied and an extensive waiting list.
SRC's location is ideal - minutes from Valley Forge, 1 mile from
the Sanatoga exit of Route 422 on E. High Street, 1/4 mile east of
K-Mart. SRC is in a rural setting yet close to restaurants,
shopping, doctors, nursing facilities, and a hospital. Free
handicapped accessible public transportation is available every 30
minutes at the SRC driveway entrance. SRC residents, ranging in
age from 55 to 91, are friendly and active. The community center
has everything from optional meals in the dining room, to exercise
and game rooms, to a video library and barber shop along with a
beauty salon. If you currently own and maintain a house, SRC is
affordable to you without all the work and worry of home
ownership. SRC has widows with annual incomes of $11,000 to
$12,000 living comfortably in their own unit.
SRC is unlike “adult communities” or so-called “55 and over communities”. Typically, in these communities only 80% of the units must be occupied by a person over 55 and anyone over 18 can live there. At SRC, the required minimum age in all units is 55 (with spousal exception), making it a true retirement community. Additionally, SRC will not force a resident to leave based solely on a reasonable inability to pay the monthly fee.
Wil Hallman is currently developing other communities similar to SRC, including Buchert Ridge Community. This community is approximately 1 mile from SRC and is currently under construction with 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units.