Newtown Borough Council to discuss idea of incorporating assisted living facility into Steeple View redevelopment plan


NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> Representatives from LCB Senior Living in Boston will attend this week's borough council work session to discuss the idea of incorporating an assisted living facility into the phase two Steeple View redevelopment plan.

Expected to attend Wednesday's meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. at borough hall will be LCB's CEO Michael Stoller along with his Vice President of Property Development Edward San Clemente, Vice President of Corporate Communications Ted Doyle and Director of Business Development Jonathan Kuhn.

At council’s October work session, Steeple View developer Allan Smith floated the idea of swapping out three proposed residential condominiums for a 90-bed assisted living facility at his phase two Steeple View redevelopment project.

The proposal, Smith said, could address concerns raised by the borough's planning commission and echoed by at least one councilor during a preliminary review of the project this past summer.

Those concerns centered on the height of four residential condominiums buildings planned for the southern end of the project site, which includes eight acres of land extending from Centre Avenue southward along the Newtown Creek to the Delta School property.

Current plans call for the demolition of the existing Fine Wine and Spirits store building at 10 Centre Avenue and auxiliary buildings at the former Stockburger property and the construction of 11 new mixed-use, multi-story buildings containing office, retail, restaurant and residential uses.

Plans also include $14 million worth of public improvements, including a five-story parking garage, a greenway/walkway along the Newtown Creek, a proposed pedestrian bridge linking the greenway to Carl Sedia Park in Newtown Township, a bird sanctuary and a public piazza for community gatherings and town events.

Smith said by swapping out three of the project's proposed residential buildings for the assisted living facility, he could lower the height of the buildings, lessen the overall traffic impact of the project by 75 percent while keeping it financially viable.

"I said to you at the preliminary plan hearing if I could figure out a way to lower the heights of the buildings and pay for all the stuff we're doing I would," Smith told council in early October. "When this came along I figured it was worth running up the flagpole."

The idea of an assisted living facility was not on Smith’s radar screen until he received a call from LCB Senior Living in Boston proposing the idea. He said the company had read about his plans in local media reports and thought one of their facilities might resolve some of the outstanding concerns.

"This is an opportunity to provide a complimentary use for the project," said Smith, with the assisted living facility taking advantage of the walkability of the surrounding retail businesses and restaurants that are planned as part of the project.

The idea is not without its hurdles, including the fact that the Traditional Neighborhood Development zoning does not include assisted living facilities. As a result, Smith would be required to obtain a variance from the zoning hearing board.

Smith said if council likes the concept, his intentions would be to ask that the council provide a favorable recommendation to the zoning hearing board.

Overall, the councilors appeared receptive to the concept, but took no definitive action and made no guarantees.

"On the surface it looks good. It solves some of the problems that I've had with it," said Councilor Bob King, who cast the lone vote against preliminary approval in August.

Council President Bob Walker noted the change would have a financial impact of the project in terms of property tax revenue and earned income tax.

With that said, he asked Smith to invite representatives from the assisted living company to attend a future council meeting to further discuss the idea.

Also at Wednesday evening’s work session, council will discuss Verizon utility pole maintenance, the 2017 parking permit cost, the purchase of a new police vehicle, shade tree maintenance on State Street and an investment grade audit for the LED lighting project.

The meeting is open to the public.

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