Some more details emerged last week on the proposed skilled nursing-assisted living complex planned for the former Garnett Elementary School property at West 208th Street and Lorain Road.
The school district is selling the 4.77-acre property to the city, which in turn plans to sell it to an as-yet- unnamed developer. In return for control of the property, the city is waiving the annual $60,000 fee charged to the school district for its use of the city-owned recreation center for 12 years.
At a Jan. 19 Planning and Design Commission meeting, Mayor Eileen Patton said the plans are for 100 skilled-nursing beds and 30 assisted-living suites.
The mayor said the project is ideal for the city’s business district.
“We feel it will blend in very nicely with the surrounding businesses that are there,” said the mayor, who sits on the Commission. She noted the assisted living units will be close to shopping locations and just across the street from the city’s senior center.
The Commission unanimously voted to recommend the rezoning from low-rise planned development to the general business category that is necessary for the project to proceed. City Council is expected to vote Jan. 31 to place the rezoning measure on the May 3 ballot. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 31, immediately preceding Council’s vote.
Jim Kennedy, the city’s economic and planning director, told Commission members the skilled-nursing and assisted-living project would likely aid efforts to draw more physicians offices and medical facilities to the city.
Kennedy also said the proposed project promises to bring financial benefits to the city.
“We anticipate significant income tax and property tax,” Kennedy said. “But it also fulfills a need in the community to the extent that it can become a destination point for our seniors.”
The city has a letter of intent from the developer, Kennedy added. The project will likely be in a two-story building, he said.
In response to a question from Commission Chairman Bruce Danko about the possibility of the deal not being completed, Kennedy said he didn’t anticipate any problems. Besides, he said, once the city owns the property, it would control what happens to it.
“If for some reason this thing didn’t proceed – which I don’t think is going to be the case – we would be looking at the highest and best use [for the property], which would be a medical office or something like an office building,” Kennedy said later in the meeting. The city would not sell the property to a retailer, he added.
Ward 2 Councilman Bill Minek, a member of the Commission, said the project solves the problem of residents who want to continue living in the city in their senior years.
The only public comment on the project came from a West 208th Street resident who expressed concern that any development at the Garnett site might trigger renewed basement flooding problems in nearby homes. Kennedy said an underground retention system required for the site, together with additional steps the city has taken to reduce flooding, means water in the basements ise not a concern.
Commission members discussed the matter with Kennedy for 15 minutes before voting in favor of the rezoning.
“I think it’s a good option for that piece of property,” Danko said.
Member Chet Sadonick called the proposed project “progressive,” adding that the city needs more attractions and services for a middle-aged and aging population.
The Commission will vote on the actual plans for the skilled-nursing and assisted-living project once they are submitted by the developer.