Dennis Rice, the owner of J.D.A. Custom Homes, told the Vienna Town Council at a work session last Monday (Sept. 9) that assisted living facilities are interested in buying his mixed-use development at 380 Maple Avenue.
“I think the town needs an assisted living facility, and it’s a good location for it,” Rice said.
Rice said that he has talked with interested assisted living facilities about plans to address lingering concerns from neighbors about the project by:
- moving back the fourth floor by 15 feet so that it isn’t as close to nearby properties
- reducing the number of entrances on Wade Hampton Road
- adding a walking entrance to Maple Avenue
- removing the balconies
- keeping the width of Wade Hampton Road to 36 feet
- including a cafe for visitors, residents and the public in the retail space
“I don’t want to name any particular companies,” Rice said. “We tried to come up with an outline that would address as many of the issues as we could.”
Rice also said that if the development houses seniors instead of families, it would eliminate concerns about the number of new students going to local schools. He added that traffic turning left out of the project could be controlled more if the drivers are employees of the facility instead of residents.
“We could approach six of seven major concerns,” he said, adding that he thinks the assisted living option for the development would be the “least onerous one to the neighbors.”
Rice reassured the Town Council that the building height would stay at 54 feet.
“Is this something worth allowing an assisted living company to pursue?” Rice asked the Town Council.
Councilmember Nisha Patel advised Rice to reach out to neighbors to get input on whether or not they have a preference for the building to become an assisted living facility or not.
“Obviously the property owner can sell to whoever they want to,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said at the work session.
The interest in turning the approved development into an assisted living facility comes on the heels of the Town Council killing a proposed Sunrise Senior Living Facility at the corner of Maple Avenue and Center Street. (Sunrise is currently suing the Town Council for allegedly discriminating against seniors and people with disabilities.)
The rejected Sunrise project came up several times during the councilmembers’ discussions about issues they would want to avoid — parking being the main one — if an assisted living facility buys 380 Maple Avenue.
DiRocco said that if Rice does sell the property to an assisted living facility, “I do think having a type of additional parking would be key.”
Rice said that the development has “more than ample parking” and that the companies he spoke to said that they have a no-driving policy. “I think by reducing the number of entrances, we pick up more parking on Wade Hampton,” Rice said.
If Rice sells the development to an assisted living facility, the new owner would need to bring changes to the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and Town Council for approval.
“I see the advantages of having an assisted living. I think that would be great,” Councilmember Linda Colbert said, adding that the Town Council would to “be smart about parking.”
“I think some of the changes to the building would be nice,” Colbert said.
Photo via Town of Vienna Planning and Zoning
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