Since attending this week’s meeting between the developers for the Jimmy Duffy’s project and the neighbors, I have received a number of calls and emails. Some township residents have thanked me for my support and “thoughtful’ articles while others have questioned ‘why’ I am involved; reminding me that it is not my backyard. Several attendees of the meeting called or wrote to say that my account of the meeting was accurate but I also received remarks that I did not provide a balanced view of the redevelopment plan.
First, I have to accept that I will never please everyone. That said, Community Matters represents my thoughts and opinion of an issue; I am not a paid newspaper reporter nor do I receive any revenue from advertisers. Whether it is attending a community meeting for a proposed redevelopment project, a facilities subcommittee meeting of the school district, or responding to a resident’s email or phone call asking for my help – it’s just what I do, whether it is my backyard or not.
As for the proposed redevelopment project for the Jimmy Duffy’s site – let me re-state clearly, that I support Capital Health Services proposal for a residential care-assisted living facility at this Lancaster Avenue location. I understand that there will be many opportunities for public discussion as this project moves through the extensive planning and township approval process. It is assumed that all issues or questions from neighbors concerning traffic, lighting, trash removal, landscape buffering, etc. will be addressed as the plans progress.
At the meeting, a question arose as to how an assisted living facility would affect local property values. Based on one resident’s account of theft of copper from the old catering building and observations of vagrants around the property, I think this proposed redevelopment project would add favorably to the real estate values of neighboring residential properties.
As I told one resident after the meeting, unlike a fast food restaurant or a typical office building, an assisted living facility will need to have upscale, resort-type landscaping to increase the curb appeal and desirability for prospective tenants. Another advantage to the local residents is the proposed project will include increased storm water management requirements.
Answering a question about the resident rental rates for the proposed facility, the developer indicated the cost at $4-9K per month, depending on size and whether single or double occupancy. I don’t know what these kind of units generally rent for in the area, but this sounds very upscale and will certainly attract the kind of residents that we would all like to have as neighbors. In addition, there is the extra bonus of bringing in a population that is not likely to disrupt the current local residential community.
I still stand behind my previous articles on the Jimmy Duffy redevelopment project. As I indicated, there have been discussions with the township in regards to this project and presentations to the Planning Commission dating back to September and October of last year and to the Board of Supervisors as recently as last month.
An assisted living facility is an excellent use for the old Jimmy Duffy building and would be a welcomed replacement for the decaying former catering building. In addition, a residential care option would provide a way to utilize this property in a way that still brings a residential flavor (versus commercial) to the neighborhood. However, to maximize the potential for a successful redevelopment project, it is very important for the developer to keep those most affected by the proposed project – the residential neighbors – fully engaged and informed in all aspects of the process.