Neighbors see plans for new senior housing project for first time

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 10, 2015

 The site plan proposed by Cypress Partners preserves the ball diamonds used by St. Clair Shores athletes.

The site plan proposed by Cypress Partners preserves the ball diamonds used by St. Clair Shores athletes.

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Developers under contract to purchase the site occupied by St. Gertrude Church on Jefferson Avenue, north of Martin Road, met with about two dozen nearby residents May 28 to get feedback on the plan for the property.


Mike Parks, of Cypress Partners in Birmingham, showed a plan for a three-story building that would contain 139 units for independent and assisted senior living to be run by a contracted company, the Higgins Group. The development would front on Jefferson Avenue with proposed entrances off of that street, as well as St. Gertrude and L’Anse streets. The building would be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units.


Parks said, pending approval from the St. Clair Shores Planning Commission, which they hope to come before in July, construction could begin by the end of the year, although it may be the spring of 2016 before the church buildings come down. Construction on the project is expected to take about a year.


“I am very sympathetic. ... I can appreciate what that site and the church means” to the neighborhood, he told the crowd. The development would leave intact two ball fields in the rear of the property currently used by St. Clair Shores baseball and softball teams.


Some residents expressed concern about the strain on infrastructure resources and the possibility of construction stirring up more rodents in the area, but Parks said it was “absolutely going to be a first-class operation.”


Although the facility would be open to anyone, Parks said usually 80-85 percent of the residents come from the local community.


“There’s not enough quality senior housing in the community,” he said. “Without question, it raises the value of the area.”


He said a development like this would also cause less traffic in the area than a similar-sized apartment or condominium complex. Cypress Partners has developed similar facilities in West Bloomfield, Farmington, Ann Arbor and Traverse City, according to its website.


While Cypress Partners hasn’t yet purchased the property from the Archdiocese of Detroit, it is under contract to purchase the property, pending approval of the plans by the city of St. Clair Shores. The contract expires at the end of this month, but Parks said they would be extending that because they expect to be at the Planning Commission meeting in July.


St. Clair Shores Community Development and Inspection Director Chris Rayes said that part of the property would have to be rezoned for the new use, but residents won’t have an opportunity to speak on the project at the Planning Commission meeting, which is why the city encouraged the developer to host the open forum in City Hall to address neighbors’ concerns.


Parks said nothing has changed in the proposed plans since they were first floated in 2014, but “unfortunately, sometimes these things take awhile.”


He said proper market studies had to be conducted and financing had to be found before the project could proceed.


Meeting with the residents resulted in some tweaks to the proposed plan to be brought before the Planning Commission, he said, with the driveway on Jefferson potentially moving and the parking lot facing L’Anse potentially being disconnected from the parking facing Jefferson to remove a road neighboring a residential home on the corner of those two streets. They will explore adding additional screening and berms to shield the homes adjacent to the project and across the street from the building, as well, he said, describing the concerns as “typical.”

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