Surprisingly this is the third senior housing facility I have written about this week.
The York County Planning Commission approved a rezoning application for the Village Shops at Kingsmill Shopping Center.
The applicant, Marlyn Development Corporation, wants to build an independent senior living facility at 1915 Pocahontas Trail off Route 60.
The subject property known as the Village Shops comprises approximately 8.22 acres. The Village Shops have struggled with occupancy over the last decade and, recently, the lender has taken control of the property. The applicant proposes to redevelop the property and create a new senior living community (it’s second in the area) along with a new commercial outparcel. The project seeks to address the need for resident consumers in this corridor in a manner that is compatible with and contributes to the character of the surrounding development.
The project proposes to rezone 7.5 acres of the site to PDR to accommodate a 150 unit single- building, independent living senior apartment community.
The project is modeled on the applicant’s recent project in York County known as “The Arbors at Towne Park. The project will feature a minimum of 25,000 square feet of interior building space for recreation area, including common areas, community room, hair salon, media room, game room, and exercise room. Additional recreational amenities will include a courtyard, sitting areas, raised garden beds, a grilling station, a dog park, and sidewalks surrounding the building.
The project will employ a Manager, Leasing Assistant, Housekeeper, Maintenance Technician, and Activities Coordinator. The facility will also feature an activities van that is available to residents for various outings, appointments, shopping trips, etc. At least one employee is on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and it is intended that at least one employee will be a full-time resident at the property (typically the activities coordinator) to provide a 24-7 management presence at the facility.
The project is projected to generate a negligible amount of vehicle trips (approximately 59 in the weekday peak hour) and, due to the age-restricted nature of the project, there will be no impact on the County’s school system.
An important distinction from other senior housing facilities is that the facility is truly an independent living facility and does not offer any services (e.g., nursing care, meals, laundry, housekeeping of individual units, etc.). Accordingly, the facility’s residents are active adults that do not tend to place a disproportionately higher demand on the locality’s EMS system. Further, the facility will be equipped with an emergency pull cord system that is monitored by a third party and the facility will have a standby power source for fire suppression, emergency lighting and one elevator as well as AEDs.
While a shopping center might seem an unusual location for a senior housing project, the opportunities for retail, office, or restaurant development are limited by market conditions. The site has been underutilized for many years and viable options for uses in the center have been limited. Moreover, the absence of strong demand for space is reflected in the history of this particular site.
This application is consistent with the James City County Comprehensive Plan objective of providing opportunities for housing construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of affordable housing that addresses the current and future needs of all income levels in the County. The Plan specifically identifies a lack of affordable housing options for households with incomes below $35,000 – the market segment that a portion of this development would target.
The Comprehensive Plan recommends that senior housing be targeted to areas “with convenient access to shopping, services, and – where it is available – transit.” A variety of retail businesses (e.g., Festival Marketplace, Marketplace Shops, and the Busch Commerce Center) are across Pocahontas Trail, as is the Quarterpath mixed-use area and Riverside Doctor’s Hospital. Additionally, there is a WATA (Williamsburg Area Transit Authority) bus stop along the frontage of the Wendy’s fast-food restaurant.
The York County Board of Supervisors will review the application at it’s March 17 meeting.