LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM)– Oz Fund Inc buys property at below-market rates in “opportunity zones”,and turns them into affordable rental housing.

It’s about to transform the property that used to belong to “Rebman’s”, a beloved retail store that served Lancaster for decades before closing for good in 2005.

“It was needed I mean the buildings that are here have been vacant for several years no one likes to see blighted you know vacant buildings and so being able to do away with the old and then bring new I think just brings a lot of excitement into the community that’s needed,” CEO and Owner of Steel Works Construction Johnathan Bowser said.

Lancaster also needs affordable housing, and this project will bring a lot of it–52 apartments, along with space for a neighborhood grocery store to ensure families have access to what they need.

“I was brought up in public housing, so you know I know what it’s like. I know there are challenges. I know the challenges that young families face if they don’t have enough money for rent,” Founder & CEO of Oz Fund Jeremy P. Feakins said.

This is Oz Fund’s first project made possible with state grants and low-interest loans.

“You know this neighborhood really needs a project like this the city really needs a project like this you know to be able to provide affordable housing in a market where you know there’s not a lot of it,” Bowser said.

But the most important support, they say, came from the people of Lancaster themselves.

“We met with the neighbors it was over Zoom because it was during COVID and they came up with the ideas that they had and we listened to them and we thought you know what they’re making a lot of sense and it’s you know even though I’ve been here since 2006 they live here,” Feakins said.

Construction could start as early as next week, and they hope to finish by the fall of 2024.