Rezoning for a new senior-living facility along Kings Highway was unanimously approved by Lewes Mayor and City Council Feb. 12.
Ocean Atlantic Companies and Vantage Point Retirement Services LLC have joined forces to build a three-story facility that offers 80 independent-living units, 63 assisted-living units and 63 memory care units.
The zoning for the 9.34-acre parcel of open land between the Mr. P’s shopping center and the Henlopen Gardens residential community will change from R-2, low-density residential, to community facilities health care to build the 220,000-square-foot facility.
“Being somewhat aware of the statewide needs for assisted living and memory care, I think there is going to be a great demand for this,” said Mayor Ted Becker.
Ocean Atlantic President Preston Schell unveiled his plans for the facility in October. At the time, he said, the Lewes facility would be a sister to the Truitt Homestead aging-in-place community near Rehoboth Beach, with residents sharing services, including a shuttle that could take residents back and forth.
Sussex County’s population is getting older, he said, particularly in Lewes, where the median age is 63.
Developers are planning for the future. In addition to Schell and Vantage Point’s two facilities, Sussex County’s board of adjustment approved in December a special-use exception to allow a 144-unit senior-living facility at the intersection of Plantation Road and Cedar Grove Road.
The Lewes facility plan includes several apartment options for residents as well as a movie theater, pub lounge, full-service salon and spa, and a fitness center. A full range of rehabilitation services will be located on site.
Proximity to Beebe Healthcare was an important factor in choosing the location for the facility, Schell said, and that influenced Councilman Rob Morgan’s decision.
“I think it’s an appropriate rezoning for the site given the demographics and location to a hospital,” he said.
Schell said the anticipated completion of the facility is 2020.
Council defers on adjacent parcel
The developers also sought to rezone an adjacent 7.11-acre parcel fronting Savannah Road from R-2 to limited commercial with the intention of building two 30,000-square-foot medical and professional offices.
However, council deferred action on the rezoning request because Schell has expressed willingness to reconsider his plans for the property. If a rezoning request is denied, the same developer must wait one year before filing another rezoning application for the property.
Rather than Schell work with council or the planning commission, City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said it is more appropriate for the developer to work with City Manager Ann Marie Townshend and City Planner Tom West to determine the best use of the property before coming back before council.
“We are happy to sit down … to discuss an alternative use for that property that better accommodates the needs of Lewes,” Schell said.