CEDAR FALLS — A Des Moines developer is proposing a 121-unit senior living facility in the Greenhill Village area on a nine acre parcel originally slated for condominiums.
The planned site is in southwest Cedar Falls in a neighborhood south of Greenhill Road and west of Hudson Road. It would be off of Algonquin and Loren drives, the latter of which would be extended by the developer. The building would be across Algonquin Drive from Greenhill Park. Last week, preliminary and final plats plus a site plan for the project came before the Cedar Falls Planning and Zoning Commission. No action was taken, but project representatives answered questions from the commission and area residents. It will return to the commission Dec. 4 for possible approval.
“When we first heard there would be a commercial building in our back yard, we were a little disappointed,” said Robin Frost, a neighbor to the property who lives on Addison Drive. She had questions about a planned berm on the west property line and expressed hope “that it will be topped with plantings.” Frost praised the developers for the efforts they had already made to work with surrounding property owners.
A 2003 master plan envisioned 12 condominium buildings with 144 units on the site. However, property owner Nelson Construction & Development of Des Moines has created plans for the retirement home, which would include sections for independent and assisted living as well as memory care.
The facility would be managed by Ecumen, a Shoreview, Minn., company that operates over 40 senior housing communities in seven states. Its website does not list any Iowa locations. The company is associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, but no financial support is received from the denomination.
An interior road would circulate around the perimeter of the property from Algonquin on the east to Loren on the north. A parking lot next to Algonquin would lead up to the building’s entryway and commons area near the middle of the property.
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“The requirement for this type of facility is 91 parking stalls,” said David Sturch, a planner with the city. The developer is proposing 104 stalls. An anticipated 67 employees will work at the facility
Memory care, with 32 units, would be located at the south end of the building in a one-level section and feature an interior courtyard. Three two- and three-story wings would be to the north, housing the other residents in 69 assisted and 20 independent living units. A pond would be south of the memory care unit along the perimeter road and parking lot.
A number of neighbors asked about traffic and truck deliveries, congestion related to the popular nearby park, light pollution, the pond and water runoff, noise, and the potential impact of the facility on their home values.
Officials said outdoor LED lighting would point downward to minimize its effect on other properties. Anne Stanfield, director of business development with Ecumen, suggested the facility would have a limited impact on traffic, with “roughly two deliveries per week.” She added, “Many of the residents don’t drive and don’t have cars,” although some of the required parking stalls are for them.
“The retention pond is planned to be a wet pond throughout the year,” said Nick Bettis, an engineer with Axiom Consultants who is working on the project. The pond will include several fountains for aeration purposes. “The size of it is within the limits to sustain the water throughout the year,” he said.
Jacob Wolfgang, development project manager with Nelson Construction, said he couldn’t predict if the facility would negatively affect property values. “I think we’re proposing a very beautiful building,” he said.