The Examiner

Developer Begins Push for New P’ville Assisted Living Proposal

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Architect Chuck Heath presents two plans for a new assisted living facility on the United Methodist Church’s property in Pleasantville as Jerry Liang, vice president for developer Sunrise Senior Living looks on.
Architect Chuck Heath presents two plans for a new assisted living facility on the United Methodist Church’s property in Pleasantville as Jerry Liang, vice president for developer Sunrise Senior Living looks on.

A developer looking to build an assisted living facility on Pleasantville’s Bedford Road is hoping the second time is the charm after another plan was rejected by the village board in 2014.

Bedford Road Partners and Sunrise Senior Living, a company that specializes in building and operating senior care facilities, are looking to build a three-story structure containing between 75 and 85 units on the four-acre parcel at 70 Bedford Rd. owned by the United Methodist Church of Pleasantville.

Sy Gruza, a land use attorney representing Bedford Road Partners, told village board members and roughly two dozen residents at the Feb. 22 work session that the new plan is not much different than the Benchmark Senior Living proposal that was rejected two years ago, but has a few notable differences.

Gruza presented two variations of preliminary site plans, which included a larger wooded buffer between the proposed building and neighboring residents than the Benchmark project. Benchmark’s proposal earned a negative declaration for no significant environmental impacts, Gruza said, and the new plan would have even less impact.

If density is a concern, he said his client would consider reducing the number of units.

“There are differences we think make it a better project and we hope to make it more attractive and acceptable to the board,” Gruza said.

Gruza told board members they would likely seek the same floating zone and easements sought by Benchmark, which Mayor Peter Scherer noted had been a topic of concern among some village officials. Gruza also acknowledged Scherer’s concern about a retaining wall that sits on the edge of the property that needs to be repaired.

In June 2014, the controversial vote to rezone the church’s property for the 87-unit Benchmark project was supported by three of five village board members, but failed because a valid petition submitted by neighboring property owners required a four-vote supermajority. Mayor Peter Scherer and Trustee Steven Lord opposed the rezone. One of the trustees who voted in favor of the project, Jonathan Cunningham, has since been replaced on the board by Joseph Stargiotti.

Sunrise Senior Living is also willing to build a small community center on the premises that would host senior programs and other activities for village residents.

Jerry Liang, vice president of investments and development for Sunrise, said his company has a 30-year track record in senior assisted living. In Westchester, the company already operates facilities in Yonkers and Mount Vernon. Sunrise cares for about 27,000 seniors in 310 communities across the United States, Canada and the U.K.

“We love what we do,” Liang said. “We have incredibly passionate team members who spend their days and nights in normal times, through difficult weather, through disasters, through all sorts of times to care for the frailest of the frail.”

Residents in Sunrise facilities who receive active care average 85 years old. Liang said one of the largest services they provide is memory care, which includes residents with Alzheimer’s.

Liang was joined by Chuck Heath of Heath Architecture LLC of Lancaster, Pa. to present two plans that had been designed.

One plan has a rectangular footprint with the building’s lower level set lower into the ground to reduce its height. There would be a freestanding community building between the facility and the church and the entrance would come off Maple Hill.

The second plan has several units less and features a thinner, more horizontal main building that sits further from neighboring properties and allows for a larger vegetation barrier. The proposed community center would sit adjacent to the church. Maple Hill would also be the point of entry.

The retaining wall and evergreen trees that would be planted would screen most of the facility from neighbors for much of the year, Heath said.

The first level of the building will be built into the incline of the property and the third level will be built into the roof, making the front of the building look like a two-story building. The rear of the building would make it appear to be a one-and-a-half-story structure.

“By building the windows and the upper floor into the roof, it reduces the effective height of the building so it doesn’t look like three whole floors or two whole floors,” Heath said.

Units would consist of a sleeping area and bathroom and social and storage areas. There would be no kitchens to prevent residents from hurting themselves. Meals would be provided in a common dining room area.

“The units themselves are made to encourage activity outside, in the common spaces,” Liang said.

Liang and Gruza said it would be several months before formal plans are submitted to the village. They asked the board for input on any changes that could improve the project and receive a green light from officials.

“We’re not set on a specific design,” Gruza said. “We want to retain the flexibility to have this conversation with you to make sure we accommodate all of the concerns to the extent that we can.”







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