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 Provision Living is one of numerous senior living facilities in West Bloomfield. Provision Living  representatives said more modern senior  living options were needed in the area.

Provision Living is one of numerous senior living facilities in West Bloomfield. Provision Living representatives said more modern senior living options were needed in the area.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Study: West Bloomfield oversaturated with senior housing

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 4, 2019

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A housing market study finalized in March reveals that the township of West Bloomfield has become oversaturated with senior living facilities.

The township Board of Trustees commissioned the study by LandUseUSA last year during a moratorium on increased density in single-family residential districts — that moratorium remains in place at least through June.

The study found that West Bloomfield is currently saturated with independent and assisted living facilities, collectively referred to as residential care communities. The township board has since directed the Planning Commission to review the city’s master plan and zoning ordinance in light of the findings.

The study noted a “disproportionately high number of beds per capita relative to its population aged 65 years, 85 years and better,” with more than 10 beds for every 100 seniors over the age of 65 and 50 beds for every 100 seniors over the age of 85 — figures that are twice the average for the state and the nation.

Rather than building more attached apartments for seniors to move into or building more senior living facilities, the study recommends helping seniors to age in place in the homes they own, with a focus on providing front-door services and other forms of assistance.

“As affluent homeowners, West Bloomfield Township’s seniors will be especially disinclined to change addresses. Empty nesters might seek to downsize, but most will still choose a smaller house over an apartment. Many are working and staying active later in life and will resist moving into an apartment just because they are ‘seniors.’ Many will seek age-at-home solutions that enable them to remain in their existing house for as long as possible,” the study states.

“The market is currently over-built with independent and assisted living apartments,” it states. “The township is carrying more than its share of the load for the county and region. There may be a need and justification for a longer-term moratorium on these super-size building formats.”

There are several senior housing projects in West Bloomfield that either have been recently completed or are being planned.

These include Provision Living West Bloomfield, located at 5475 W. Maple Road, the site of the former Ealy Elementary School — a 90,000-square-foot facility that can accommodate up to 126 residents and opened late last year; and Cranberry Park, a 54-unit assisted living facility that will be located at 2450 Haggerty Road, an area that the township board rezoned last year from an industrial office park to an office building district for this project, which is set to begin construction this year.

In February, the board also lifted the moratorium to allow a developer, Franklin Pasteur Development Co., to submit a proposal to the township’s Planning Commission for a project, Hunter Pasteur Homes, involving between 54 and 68 attached single-family homes.

“Under the moratorium, any party feeling aggrieved by it can seek a hardship exemption. The burden (to prove) is on the party seeking the exemption. In this case, the developer approached (the township board) and was able to submit a proposal,” said Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan. “The developer had either tended an offer to the owner — they don’t own the property; it had been the school district’s at one point — and they either had an option to buy or a limited amount of time to close.”

If the board agrees that there’s an unfair hardship placed on them, it will allow that party to submit a proposal to the Planning Commission. However, that doesn’t mean the proposal will ultimately be approved.

At press time, the developer had not yet submitted the proposal. The site of the former Eagle Elementary School, located at 29410 13 Mile Road, is a location that the developer is considering.

During a phone interview, Kaplan pointed out how there are other variables to consider when the township looks at proposals for senior housing.

“More (senior living facilities) tax the Fire Department, since on average, a person living in a senior living facility needs at least one paramedic run per year. Also, (senior living facilities) have greater density than existing in a subdivision (so there may be more structure fires). So there is a cost to it, and that’s why, if you have a disproportionate number of them, there will be a disproportionate number of paramedic runs,” Kaplan said. “As an example, let’s say that we had 25 percent fewer senior living facilities and 25 percent more residential single-family neighborhoods. We would then save approximately 25 percent on our firefighter/paramedic budget.

“Now that, in itself, is not a reason to close any facilities down,” he continued. “But it is a factor for a municipality to consider when looking at adding new facilities.”

The supervisor noted that West Bloomfield’s market saturation here raises another question: Why are these facilities especially popular in West Bloomfield versus neighboring communities, such as Farmington  Hills and Bloomfield Township?

“The answer might be that we’ve had families living here in this community for two generations or more, so when the grandparents decide they can’t live in the single-family household anymore, they might want to live in one of these facilities to be near their family,” Kaplan theorized.

Amy Neary, the township’s development services and planning director, said in an email that the report’s findings will be carefully considered going forward.

“The housing study will be a valuable resource for the Planning Commission during the master plan update process,” Neary said. “The study, along with input from the public, will inform the commission as they plan for the future of our residential neighborhoods, to ensure we are providing a balance of housing types in the community.”

The president of Provision Living, Todd Spittal, said last April that the township’s senior housing options needed more modern offerings. After his new facility opened last week, he explained what drew Provision Living to the township.

“We look to invest in communities that have a high sense of community pride and engagement, and we saw that in West Bloomfield. With our community now open, we are excited to deliver our model of excellence to residents and families in West Bloomfield, and most of all, to create a place for them that radiates love, inspiration and fulfillment.”

The project broke ground in August 2017. The housing community features studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, with memory-care units for residents with Alzheimer’s, dementia and related issues.

The project features a beauty salon, an exercise room, therapy space, a movie theater, a chapel, dining rooms, common areas, and landscaped courtyards, patios and walkways.

The West Bloomfield community is not the first Provision Living facility in Michigan. The St. Louis-based company first expanded into Michigan with a location in Ann Arbor.