Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor gave his approval Wednesday for a Chamblee-based real estate company to begin work on an assisted living and memory care facility that will sit on roughly 1.6 million square feet of property on both sides of Peeples Valley Road.
Taylor approved two items allowing NSR Acquisitions LLC to begin the groundwork on the development, which is situated on about 38 acres of land. The first was a request to change the land-use classification from industrial to commercial and the second was a request to rezone the property from its current A1 agricultural zoning to C1 commercial zoning.
The Bartow County Planning and Zoning Commission approved both measures unanimously two days earlier.
The two tracts of land abut Gilreath Road to the south. The smaller tract covers about 8.8 acres of land, while the larger property on the other side of Peeples Valley Road consists of about 29.8 acres.
"We want to develop on the western half of the property," said Rick Massey, an architect for Alpharetta-based firm Stegenga + Partners. "We're planning on five cottages for senior living. We're going to also restore the old barn that's there and the owner's currently restoring the farmhouse that's there."
According to blueprints drawn up by Southland Engineering Inc., the total building area of the development will be 69,400 square feet. That includes plans for a 7,200-square-foot activity center, 2,200 square feet of office and at least four 15,000-square-feet buildings with 24 beds a piece.
"The property on the east side is mostly floodplain property and there's two large 60-inch culverts," said Southland Engineering President Karl Lutjens. "What we're planning on doing is moving to utilize all of the higher land and we're going to move the [retention] pond to the other side of the road."
He said the primary entrances and exits for the facility will be via Gilreath Road, with no access off Peeples Valley Road. His concept plans anticipate 79 parking spots at the development — virtually all of them for employees and visitors.
"The traffic is very minimal," Lutjens said.
"Just west of here there is residential and at the north of this is commercial already ... if you were to look at the elevations of it, it very much looks like a residential home, there's a lot of garden features and outdoor features but there will be 24-hour care."
Massey said all of the units will be studios. "So there could be single occupants, or there could be a couple, it depends," he said. "There will be some memory care, but mostly assisted living."
Ed Moncrief, president and owner of NSR Acquisitions LLC, said he has experience building such facilities, having helped a similar project get off the ground in Jefferson.
"The intent is to give it a cottage feel," he said. "Because the buildings are smaller, there's 24 people in a unit, it's not your large assisted living, it should have more like a small village feel to it."
Moncrief discussed how the proposed development would make use of some of the existing infrastructure in the area.
"The old house that's up here, the homestead, this will be an administrative building and [the] barn … this will really just be a pavilion, just an open-air pavilion. Behind that will be the commercial use, the kitchen and so forth," he said. "Between these buildings up here there's a center [that] will be sidewalk and that's where the lights will be. They won't necessarily be along the back where the other houses are."
Other planned amenities and features, Moncrief said, include a beauty salon, a doctor's office, a dedicated physical therapy space and a wellness center. He said he envisions the renovated barn being used for special events.
"Your aunt Mary has her 90th birthday and you want to have a little picnic out there," he said. "It will be used, but it won't necessarily be a heated space."
Most of the heavy access to the senior living facility, he said, would be relegated to kitchen deliveries. "But really, most of the drive right here is for a minimal number of cars and for fire access," Moncrief added.
He described the boundaries of the development.
"There's a strip of county property here for an easement and most of these homes have fencing here. So we may either tie into that or we might add our own, we're not quite sure yet," he said. "Around front, there will be some kind of decorative fencing and we'll probably have some display of what the place is here."
As for a construction timetable, Massey said he's optimistic the senior living center will be open before the end of the decade — perhaps through staged sequencing.
"We're scheduled to look at around Christmas of 2019," he said. "There's been discussion about phasing, possibly opening two [cottages] and then completing the other three."
Lutjens said he expects about 18 months for the development to take shape.
"We'll get approval for the development plans, we'll break ground and then start the construction," he said. "We're looking at construction starting, probably, in about three months."