WTCSB buys former Tabernacle Gardens

Published 10:18 pm Monday, June 26, 2017

The Western Tidewater Community Services Board has purchased a former assisted living facility on East Washington Street and has plans to reopen it by August.

The facility, most recently known as Tabernacle Gardens, has undergone many changes over the years. It has had 11 program operators in 16 years, WTCSB Executive Director Demetrios Peratsakis said.

The community services board, since it had clients living in the facility, has had varying levels of involvement over the years as permitted by the program operators.

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“We have been there to help them, and we’ve also been there when they’ve failed,” Peratsakis said. “It’s been very challenging for us to be as involved as many of the residents needed.”

Recently, the building’s owner put it up for sale for the first time in recent memory. Peratsakis said the community services board carefully weighed its options.

“I think the community has been disappointed many, many times,” he said. “We made a pledge we would not express interest in the facility unless we could create a program the neighborhood and community can be proud of.”

The board purchased the building in early May and has since been in the process of doing a full-scale renovation to improve the living standards in the facility.

“We’ve just pretty much redone everything on the inside,” said Darlene Rawls, who handles community integration and rehabilitation services for the WTCSB.

Flooring, walls, windows, the ceiling and the roof are all among improvements being made to the exterior and interior of the building.

Each room will have two beds, and there will be a total of 50 beds. Each room will have a sink and vanity.

A renovated family meeting area and dining area will be created with a variety of seating options for people with different needs.

“We can accommodate pretty much any need,” said Anita Morris, behavioral health home administrator for the WTCSB.

Outdoors, residents will be able to enjoy a renovated gazebo with fire pit, a courtyard area with patio seating and a raised garden.

Peratsakis said the board was taken aback by the amount of work needed to the building but has been completing it diligently.

“It requires a tremendous amount of renovation,” he said. “We have been so busy just trying to get it up to speed.”

This won’t be the board’s first foray into residential facilities. It already runs eight facilities in Suffolk and one in Isle of Wight County for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Those who move into the East Washington Street facility — 25 are already pre-selected, Peratsakis said — will likely have behavioral or mental health diagnoses along with the possibility of physical health issues, as well. The facility will be well staffed with a variety of health care professionals at all times.

Peratsakis said the board looks forward to being able to serve the community in this new way.

“We feel very fortunate for the opportunity,” he said. “It’s a bold step, but we don’t intend to fail.”