Senior living development approved

Published 10:53 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Planning Commission on Tuesday recommended approval for a senior living development in Harbour View.

The request for the proposed 175-unit facility will go before City Council on Dec. 18.

The Harbour View Aged Care Facility will be located at 5871 Harbour View Blvd., directly behind a building that currently houses a Starbucks and other shops. It will be owned by Smith/Packett, a Roanoke-based company that owns several other such facilities, and operated by Harmony Senior Services.

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The rezoning request under consideration would change the zoning from a commercial zoning to an institutional one. Staff planner David Parks said the parcels lacks sufficient frontage for most commercial usages.

Attorney Whitney Saunders, who represented Suffolk IL-AL Investors at the meeting, said the project “has a very favorable benefit to cost ratio to the city” because those 55 and older place no demands on the school system and generate very little peak-hour traffic while also spending money at local businesses.

The project is set to cost about $24 million and generate about $180,000 in real estate tax revenue annually.

“The property is almost cut out perfectly for this use because it’s already surrounded by thick vegetation, which will remain in place,” he said.

Susan Eckert, president of Harmony Senior Services, said more than 750 seniors currently live in the six communities managed by the company.

The facility will include a theater, café, exercise room, library, computer room and beauty parlor, she said, in addition to a secured, private courtyard for the memory care unit.

“The beauty of this building is to age in place,” she said, adding the building features independent living as well as assisted living.

But, she said, residents will take frequent trips to shopping and entertainment venues around town.

“We become part of the community,” she said.