Fayetteville Planning Commission on senior complex: ‘Good project, bad location’

The proposal was good but the location was not. That was the decision by the Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission on July 22, recommending that the proposed Fayette Place senior housing community along Ga. Highway 54 be denied by the City Council.

The Beverly J. Searles Foundation is proposing 239 independent living, assisted living and memory care units along Hwy. 54 in The Villages development several blocks west of downtown.

The rezoning proposal called for developing the 13.7-acre site to include 125 independent living units, 24 independent “quad” villas along with 60 assisted living units and 30 memory care units in a large building.

Searles representatives said the two- and three-story flats would house the independent living units, adding that the memory care portion of the development would be a secured facility.

Commenting on the proposal, landscape architect Dennis Drewyer said the development could accommodate a small amount of retail on the east side of the property near the Hampton Inn.

Speaking during public comments, The Villages resident Dennis Shubert suggested that the recently-approved Lafayette Square luxury apartments be given a chance to attract retail development to the 13.7-acre tract. His comments were similar to those of others who called for a retail or live-work type of development in the area.

“It’s a nice project and a nice idea. I don’t know if it’s the right project for the right spot,” said Commissioner Kenneth Collins, questioning if seniors would walk several blocks to the downtown area as Searles representatives had suggested.

“(The project) is well-done but it’s not what we’re trying to do,” said Commissioner Debbie Renfroe of the tract which, in prior years, was proposed as a retail or live-work area.

Commissioner Bill Talley made the initial motion to table the proposal so the developer could have further meetings with neighbors. The motion died for lack of a second.

Speaking against tabling the item, Chairman Sarah Murphy said the developer could continue to meet with neighbors during the month before the City Council would be expected to vote.

Collins followed with a motion to recommend denial to the City Council. The vote was 2-1, with Collins and Renfroe in favor and Talley opposed.

The City Council will hold public hearings on the proposal in August.

The same property was approved by the City Council in 2008 for a 175,000 square-foot retail/office/residential development with an anchor store no larger than 35,000 square feet.

The Lafayette Senior Village development on the west side of Lafayette Avenue and Hwy. 54, also a Searles Foundation proposal, was approved by the council in mid-2011. The senior residential living project was to be a federal tax credit-funded arrangement routed through the Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs (DCA) but was put on hold in 2012 after the project was not selected in the 2011 round of funding.

The Lafayette Square luxury apartment proposal, located on the site of the Searles project from 2011, was approved by the council in June.

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