By E. Roberts Musser –
Some on the Davis Senior Citizens Commission were approached by a representative of Carlton Senior Living, “a private, family-run company dedicated to creating assisted living communities”. This business is proposing the development of a 125 unit assisted living facility on the end of town where the Davis Post Office is located. It would be a small infill project called Carlton Plaza Davis, with 25 of the units situated in a dementia wing.
Eleanor Roosevelt Circle (ERC), another senior facility, is positioned close by. ERC is right across the street from the police station, at the intersection of Cantrell Drive and Russell Blvd. This circumstance offers some definite advantages. Carlton Plaza Davis envisions providing a bus shuttle for its residents. It is possible such transportation, completely lacking at ERC, could be shared between the two facilities in some fashion. So could social activities. Thus it makes logical sense to locate these two senior facilities close to one another.
Apparently DWR and DPD have expressed some reservations about the location of an assisted living facility so close to their business operations. In speaking with the Carlton representative, he indicated such goings-on are actually desirable as “entertainment” for the residents to observe from their windows. I’ll admit, watching suspects being brought in for booking at the police department could be pretty interesting. I’m not as certain about waste removal operations.
Noise could be a potential problem, so I actually walked the site. There was more sound coming from a passing train and truck traffic than was generated by DWR activity, which was relatively quiet. No sound came from DPD. There are already offices adjacent, so an assisted living facility would not be a stretch in terms of zoning. Currently the parcel is zoned industrial, so an application would have to be made to change the designation to accommodate a residential facility.
The rent for the units themselves will be pricey, at about $3500 to $4,000 per month. I asked the representative how he thought this would sit with Atria Covell Gardens. It would appear Carlton Plaza Davis would be in direct competition. Many in Davis – especially the residents at Atria Covell hit with sizeable rent increases in recent years – may welcome such rivalry. The thought might be a miniature price war could result in holding rents at more sustainable levels there.
The indication was Carlton Plaza Davis caters to residents who need more acute care than Atria Covell Gardens can provide. For instance, the proposed assisted living facility includes a wing for Alzheimer’s patients. Currently, if a Davis resident living at Atria Covell develops needs greater than what can be legally provided there, s/he must search elsewhere. Palm Gardens assisted living in Woodland is one such option with more acute care. Carlton Plaza could also offer shared suites, an idea that Atria Covell has adopted successfully. This concept can bring the rent costs down considerably for an individual willing to consider such a co-housing arrangement.
Sue Greenwald, the City Council liaison to the Davis Senior Citizens Commission, expressed surprise when learning about this project. She was unaware of its existence, even though three commissioners knew about it. I was actually contacted by a representative of the company, and talked with him at length on the proposed site. He was quite amenable to answering any questions I had.
Certainly there is an argument that this small venture could obviate some of the “necessity” being artificially created by the former Covell Village developers for massive senior housing at the corner of Covell Blvd. and Pole Line. Nor does this little project require any significant infrastructure costs to the city for the installation of massive sewer/water lines, or a considerable number of additional roads or parks. But Carlton Senior Living had better get its application in before Covell Village Partners – who plan to put one in come January 2010.
The question in my mind is will Carlton Plaza Davis serve the internal needs of Davis citizens? It sounds like it might.
LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Smaller, infill development projects can be a way of facilitating smarter growth, but careful independent analysis should always take place first and foremost. There should be maximum effort to fulfill internal needs before all else. The cost of the project to current residents of the municipality also needs to be taken into serious consideration.
Elaine Roberts Musser is an attorney who concentrates her efforts on elder law and aging issues, especially in regard to consumer affairs. If you have a comment or particular question or topic you would like to see addressed in this column, please make your observations at the end of this article in the comment section.