Rendering of the $30 million senior living project

This a rendering of the $30 million senior living project proposed for Kruse Drive in Solon. The site is near two shopping centers that would give residents places to walk, developers have said.

Developers of a $30 million senior living complex proposed for 5.38 acres on Kruse Drive unveiled details of the project during a Planning Commission public hearing last week.

Omni Property Cos. of Beachwood is seeking rezoning of the land for its Vitalia project across from the Solon Uptown Shopping Plaza. If the project is approved, Omni would consider moving its headquarters to Solon.

Few residents were at the Oct. 11 hearing. The commission plans to continue the hearing and discussion at its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in City Hall.

Developers are asking that the property be rezoned from C-1 (historic commercial) and C-2 (restricted commercial) to R-3-A (senior citizen residential). Voters will get the final say on the rezoning if it is approved by the commission and council. Developers want to get the issue on the May 18, 2018, ballot. The issue must be filed with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections by Feb. 5 to get on the primary ballot.

Omni Vice President of Development Gary Biales told the commission that the project includes a 105,000-square-foot building for Independent Living and another 45,000-square-foot building for assisted living and memory care.

“I think you will find it unique and interesting,” Mr. Biales said of the proposal.

The independent living units will go for about $3,000 a month and would include all meals and transportation. The rents for assisted living and memory care would be higher, he noted, but dependent on the level of care needed for each individual.

By comparison, units in South Franklin Circle in Bainbridge are about $3,000 a month for independent living and $6,500 for assisted living, said Mr. Biales, a Solon resident.

“There’s nothing else in the city that is zoned and can be built for senior living without a rezoning,” Mr. Biales noted. “This is high quality property for seniors.”

He showed drawings to the commission of the surrounding area, which includes retail and some industry. The Vitalia project would be located between Le Chaperon Rouge School and the shopping center where Panera Bread is located.

“It does have walkability and not a high traffic area like Aurora and SOM Center Road,” Mr. Biales said.

Developers at Omni did a great deal of research before selecting Solon as a potential site, he said. “It’s a $30 million project and we have to know there is a demand.”

Typically the independent living building generally would attract people around 72 years of age, he said, while the assisted living building would be targeted to those in their 80s. Memory care could encompass any age.

The independent living building would have four stories with a total of 90 units including studio, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments. Plans show the assisted living and memory care building with three stories and a total of 42 units for assisted living and 18 for memory care.

Memory care would be located on the first floor and assisted living on the upper floors.

The Independent Living building will be “full service,” Mr. Biales noted. The dining areas for the buildings would be all separate.

Mr. Biales said Vitalia would generate $2 million in new payroll for Solon. Between new payroll taxes and property taxes, the city would gain about $75,000 annually in income. The city school district would fare better with $530,000 in annual property taxes from Vitalia and no new students to add to the district, he said.

Vitalia should take about 14 months to build.

It will be “pet friendly,” and include a dog park on the parcel, as well as “meals all day long.

“There will not be a time period,” Mr. Biales said of when meals are served. People can get food from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and local transportation will be provided.

Parking for this type of facility is minimal, with just 30 percent of those in Independent Living owning cars. Those in assisted living and memory care do not. Parking would mostly be needed for employees and visitors.

Vitalia will feature a therapeutic swimming pool, exercise facility, coffee bar and many areas to mingle.  Mr. Biales said the complex library would partner with the Cuyahoga County Public Library for programming. There also will be house cleaning and laundry services with the independent living units as well as movies shown nightly in a theater.

“Our whole thing is a community,” Mr. Biales said, different from apartment living where people just remain in their apartments.

“We want people to mingle and gather,” he said, adding that about 80 percent of the people in independent living generally are single.

“This is a great market,” Mr. Biales said of Solon.

He also told the commission that Omni is hoping to purchase about 6 acres of property directly to the east of the Vitalia site for its corporate headquarters. Currently, Dow Chemical owns the land. Mr. Biales said if they would be successful in acquiring the property, Omni would leave its 10,000-square-foot headquarters in Beachwood for Solon. Omni also owns two office buildings in Solon that it currently leases.

Omni is working on a development agreement with the city and “we are close,” Mr. Biales said. City Planning Director Robert S. Frankland said the agreement should be ready by Nov. 1.

Mayor Susan A. Drucker, a member of the commission, thanked Omni for all their time in meeting with the city.

“This fills a need and we will have a greater need in the city because of our growing senior population,” she said.

The mayor said the number of participants at the Solon Senior Center has grown rapidly in the past six years.

In addition to filling a need, the location of Vitalia would be instrumental in creating walkability in that surrounding area, Mayor Drucker added.

“Everyone will benefit from this,” she said. “Thank you for your investment, and I look forward to seeing your final plan.”

Commission member Roger C. Newberry also thanked Omni and noted that the property has been a difficult one to develop.

Mr. Newberry added that he wished to digest the information but wasn’t yet ready to vote. Commission Chairman Eugene Macke Bentley was absent and other members wanted him to look at the proposal before a vote is taken.

Councilman Robert N. Pelunis, a member of the commission, thanked Omni for providing the economic impact of the project on the city.

“It will be a worthwhile project,” Mr. Pelunis said.

Commission member William M. Mazur noted there is a historic Sears catalog house on this property, and asked that Omni approach the Solon Historical Society to determine if there would be any interest in maintaining or moving the building.

“Omni is of the highest quality,” Councilman Edward H. Kraus said of developers. He also continued that often people “lament” when they have to leave Solon for housing. “Seniors miss being near their children or grandchildren.

“We are developing generations of Solon residents,” Mr. Kraus said. 

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