Vienna Planning Commissioners may have found a solution last night (May 8) to parking and retail space concerns plaguing the proposed Sunrise Senior Living Facility.
Concerns raised about the proposed 83-unit facility at yesterday’s public hearing were similar to ones brought up at the last public hearing: parking, ground floor retail space and location.
Several residents and planning commissioners said they are worried that the 60 parking spaces might not accommodate all of the visitors, employees, shoppers and roughly 100 residents, adding to already problematic traffic congestion around Church Street.
Jerry Liang, the senior vice president of development for Sunrise, said that the removal of a compact parking space resolved an issue brought up at the last public hearing about easy access for ambulances. He also said that some of the facility’s employees will probably use public transit and carpools, freeing up more parking spaces.
In addition to the parking, residents said the ground floor retail at the senior living facility won’t appeal to shoppers. “Would you do your Christmas shopping at the hospital gift shop?” resident Christopher Hogan asked.
Toward the end of the meeting, Planning Commissioner Mary McCullough questioned whether the development was required to have the retail space, which then led to a possible solution: eliminate some or all of the retail space, which would free up the retailers’ 29 parking spaces.
The possible solution to the parking and retail space woes, however, does not address one other concern.
While residents said they support the idea of having a senior living facility come to the town, some took issue with the location at E. Maple Avenue and Center Street — the heart of downtown Vienna.
“I don’t want our centerpiece of town to be assisted living,” a man who said he runs a local business next to the proposed site told the Planning Commission.
Resident Nancy Logan urged the planning commissioners to consider other options for the space. “The location is something very important,” she said. “I’d love to see a hotel or something that could help Vienna.”
Vienna resident Chuck Anderson said during public comment that he doesn’t think a senior living facility will add synergy to the local bars and businesses.
Some residents said they wished the project could get moved to a different location, but the Planning Commission doesn’t have that authority.
“I really like Sunrise,” resident Shelley Ebert said during public comment. “I wish they would move to the west and come to my neighborhood.”
Ultimately, the Planning Commission decided to return to the development at their next meeting.
Rendering via Town of Vienna