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Rezoning approval needed for nursing home project to proceed

Fairview Park voters who go to the polls for Tuesday’s election will find only one issue on the ballot. But how that issue is decided will determine whether or not a planned nursing home and assisted living facility is built on a vacant Lorain Road lot.

If passed, Issue 10 would change the zoning of the former Garnett School property from low-rise planned development to general business.

In November 2005, the city successfully asked voters to rezone the property from civic and recreational to low-rise planned development in anticipation of a larger mixed-use redevelopment along Lorain Road that failed to materialize. Economic Development Director Jim Kennedy has said the city hopes additional redevelopment will take place along Lorain Road in the years to come.

Kennedy said the proposed nursing home, to be built by O’Neill Management, will bring the city around $100,000 in income tax revenue each year. O’Neill Management also owns Bradley Bay Health Center in Bay Village, Wellington Place in North Olmsted, Center Ridge Health Campus in North Ridgeville and Lakewood Senior Health Campus in Lakewood.

O’Neill Management has reached an agreement with the city to purchase the 4.77-acre property for $720,000, Kennedy said. The deal is contingent upon voter approval of Tuesday’s rezoning issue. Under city law, the measure must also win the approval of a majority of voters in Ward 2.

In December, the city reached an agreement to acquire the property at Lorain and West 208th Street from the Fairview Park City Schools. In exchange for the property, the city is waiving the schools’ annual $60,000 fee to use the city-owned Gemini recreation center over the next 12 years.

After an expected seven-year tax abatement expires, O’Neill will pay about $350,000 in property taxes annually, Kennedy said.

“Today, it’s valued at zero for tax purposes,” Kennedy said of the property, which also contains the former Fairview Park City Schools administrative offices.

At a public hearing on the rezoning earlier this year, a nearby resident expressed concerns that the construction might adversely affect the city’s sewer systems. Kennedy reiterated least week the project would not impact the sewers.

In addition to generating significant revenue for the city and school district, Kennedy said the nursing home and assisted living facility would provide services that have been badly needed. During events at the city’s senior center, many senior residents have commented that there is no facility in the city where they can live when they might need such services, city officials have said.

Even though the rezoning issue is the only one on the ballot, Kennedy said he anticipates support for the measure. Residents have been supportive of the city’s requests for rezoning approval in the past, he said.

John O’Neill, owner of O’Neill Management, said that no name has yet been given to the planned facility, which will consist of 24 to 28 private assisted living suites and 100 skilled nursing beds, most of which will be in private rooms.

“There’s a need in Fairview Park, and the proximity to Fairview Hospital and the visibility on Lorain Road is a real plus for this,” O’Neill told West Life.

O’Neill said the planned facility will include the best features from his company’s four other local senior residences.

“We’ve learned over the years what best suits the needs of our residents,” O’Neill said. “This will be the best of all worlds.”

If the rezoning measure is approved, groundbreaking for the two-story facility will take place in spring 2010 at the earliest, O’Neill said.

O’Neill’s company outbid another senior residence business to acquire the property. O’Neill said it was natural for him to be interested in a Fairview Park location because he grew up in the city and graduated from Fairview High School.

 

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