St. Clair Shores
Council debates design change on senior living facility
Posted May 24, 2017
ST. CLAIR SHORES — With construction continuing on a large senior living facility on Jefferson Avenue, the developer returned to City Council with some requests for changes to the plan.
Mike Parks, of Cypress Partners, said that winter rains had pushed the project about three weeks behind schedule on the Lakeshore Senior Living project on the site of the former St. Gertrude Church on Jefferson Avenue, north of Martin Road. Nevertheless, he said that they anticipate finishing the project the first week of November.
He was in front of council May 15, however, asking for changes to the site plan for materials, building shapes, window planters, gas lanterns and more windows, among other changes.
“We had a designer that came on board to do the inside of the building. She looked hard at the outside and felt very strongly that what we had originally planned with the architect was boring, a bit drab. ... She said you really need to speak to St. Clair Shores,” he said.
The new design, Parks explained, has an “elegant cottage feel,” which he equated to be more like the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island with a hexagonal three-story center in stone, flower boxes and shutters added to some windows, and 14 portal-style windows added to give the building a more “lake shore feel.”
“We’re just trying to create a beautiful building on Jefferson Avenue,” he said.
“It does look like a high-end hotel, not a nursing home. It looks nice with the stone in the center. You did a nice job,” Councilman Pete Accica said.
Councilman Chris Vitale said he was unhappy with the changes that eliminated portions of brick along the second story, however.
“I’m looking at those big portions that come out,” he said, explaining that putting masonry on the flat spaces at either end of the building, in his opinion, “would really fit in a lot better on Jefferson.”
“Even the apartment building that’s right next to you has brick all the way up to the gables.”
Parks said that the building has brick along the entire length of the first floor and agreed to use wood cedar shake for the top gables. He explained that the new design includes more stone than they originally planned to use, as well, and that they invested more in other areas of the building.
Vitale, however, said he was disappointed to see the changes before City Council when the project had already progressed beyond the point where some of the requests could be changed, such as changing the center from a square shape to hexagonal.
“This is before us now. You’ve already built it,” he said. “Long before you were granted permission ... you already had the caps on your brick on the first floor, which essentially said that you won’t have any stone or brick on the second floor.
“It’s subjective, the center portion being a hexagon rather than a square is fine, (but) any change should have come before this body.”
Parks apologized for the oversight, and the amended site plan was approved 6-1, with Vitale opposed.
“When I first heard of the change, I was taken aback until I realized how little two-story brick there was on there (in the original plan),” said Councilman Pete Rubino. “I just feel three stories of stone in the center and a hexagon makes for a much more beautiful centerpiece than the two areas that jut out being stone or brick.
“I think the new design is way better.”
Other council members agreed.
“I like this design,” Councilwoman Candice Rusie said. “This is an improvement to the one we had received earlier.”
About the author
Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske covers St. Clair Shores and the Lake Shore, Lakeview and South Lake public schools for the Sentinel. Kristyne has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2004 and attended Michigan State University and Chippewa Valley High School.
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