Westerville News & Public Opinion

Developer plans nursing facility with 'resort' feel


The skilled nursing facility planned at the heart of a mixed-use development at Cleveland Avenue and Cooper Road would have a resort feel, with large windows overlooking a pond, greenspace and walking trails.

Developers for the skilled-nursing facility, the first plot with concrete plans in the 95-acre plot that spans Cooper Road along Cleveland Avenue, spoke to the Westerville Planning Commission members at their Oct. 24 meeting about what the skilled-nursing facility owned by Sprenger Health Care Systems could look like.

While the facility has not yet been designed, it would lie on 8 acres on the south side of Cooper Road at Collegeview Road and would feature 150 beds, mostly to provide skilled-nursing care, such as occupational and physical therapy, said Dennis Dechow, of Main Street Property Group.

There would be 42 beds to provide assisted living, and there would be a memory care unit.

The bulk of the facility would be two stories but also would have a three-story section, Dechow said.

The design will be grand enough to evoke a resort feel but with details that would put patients using the facility at ease.

"We still want it to feel residential," Dechow said. "Occupants are coming in for a short stay, either a few days or several weeks."

The hub of the facility would be a "Main Street" design with an indoor courtyard featuring outdoor-style streetlights and storefronts housing salons and meeting rooms.

The facility would employ 134 full-time employees with a payroll of more than $5 million, said Sprenger Vice President of Projects Chris Mallett.

"We'll have an impact on employment in town, and we're also very excited about the location as it relates to the hospital, and also the university and its nursing program," Mallett said. "We're very excited about being in town."

The facility is at the heart of the larger mixed-development plan for the 95 acres, on the last large open parcel in the city on South Cleveland Avenue. It is separated from Mount Carmel St. Ann's Hospital by the Chase Bank John G. McCoy office campus.

The presentation on the skilled-nursing facility marked the second month in a row that the Planning Commission has discussed plans to develop the 95-acre tract at 198 S. Cleveland Ave. that now is home to rolling fields, an old farmhouse and barn.

There is a request before the commission to rezone the parcel to a Planned Development District and approve a preliminary development plan for the site.

Last month, the commission heard a proposal for a dense mixed-use development for the site that would feature commercial development along Cleveland Avenue that would transition to transition to medical office buildings, the skilled skilled-nursing facility and then to multifamily residential development to the east, along Alum Creek.

No vote has been requested yet from the commission.

At the September meeting and again at the Oct. 24 meeting, residents of Heritage Condominiums, located across Cleveland Avenue from the proposed development, voiced concerns over how the large-scale development would affect traffic on the already congested Cleveland Avenue corridor.

"Cleveland Avenue has become an absolute freeway, and it's extremely dangerous for our residents to exit and enter," said Heritage Condominiums resident Ron Caudill. "With this development, we think it's going to compound the problem. ... We think something needs to be done to help our residents to get in and out."