Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Assisted Living Facility . . . A Good Fit for a Decaying Former Catering Business

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.

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  1. When local residents get together to fight a new development, they should be very sure they understand the full range of what can legally go there — because if you oppose the high end options, you will end up with somethinig much less that will be built by right.
    Likewise a retirement community (much like Cathcart Home on Valley Forge Road,, which is owned by another entity now) does one important thing — it occupies a site without creating extensive inbound or outbound traffic, and it does not bring any children into the community (read: cost of a child for K-12 schools).
    So I agree with Pattye — let’s let this play out – -ask reasonable questions, offer reasonable demands, and remember that it may be the best you can hope for. The pricing == if accurate — is quite high. One thing to challenge is whether it should qualify for non-profit status…where it won’t pay any property taxes. Many are — and localities are challenging that…so we might make that an issue from the start.

  2. My mother has been in a local ALF for 2 years and I’ve checked out several local places also.
    These proposed prices are in line ..costs depend on not only the facility but the degree of nursing care required. Also I doubt if they will be taking any Medicaid patients.

  3. CHV — prices are in line with first class facility. Dunwoody in Newtown Square has been fighting an attempt to reclassify them as “for profit”….so maybe we can play this game from the start. There are taxes paid on that property right now — ALF could qualify for non-profit status, which would decrease revenues again in our community.

    This does relate to the discussion of 250 apartments on old 202….be aware of what a developer can do “by right”….

    1. Based on the ruling against Dunwoody’s effort to be classified non-profit, it seems highly unlikely that this ALF – as presented by Pattye’s info – would qualify as non-profit.

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