‘Topping-out’ ceremony marks progress on First Community Village expansion in Upper Arlington

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group
A "topping-out" ceremony was held Sept. 30 by National Church Residences for the expansion project at First Community Village, 1800-02 Riverside Drive. The Fairfax will be four stories and have 70 independent-living apartments.

A $37-million expansion project at First Community Village took another significant step forward, keeping The Fairfax on schedule for a June opening. 

In August 2019, ground was broken on the largest expansion at First Community Village, 1800-02 Riverside Drive, in the retirement community’s 57-year history.  

On Sept. 30, a “topping-out” ceremony was held by National Church Residences, which owns FCV, to mark the latest advancements in the 70-unit independent-living apartment complex. 

“A topping-out ceremony represents a significant milestone in a development project, where the last steel beam of the building’s structural frame is lifted and secured into place,” said George Tabit, NCR vice president of senior housing development. “This completes the framework for the building. 

“In large projects, like The Fairfax, this hallmark event is used as a point of celebration.” 

As is tradition, Tabit said, the ceremony included painting the final beam white and affixing a small evergreen tree to it as it was raised “as a symbol of the building coming to life.” 

“The steel cupola structure was graced with the signatures of future residents and project partners before being hoisted by crane to its permanent location atop the Fairfax Wellness Center,” Tabit said. “If all stays on schedule with construction, we will be ready for residents June of 2021.” 

The completed four-story, 143,622-square-foot complex will offer a “smart” gym, juice bar, spa and other amenities. 

The project also includes construction of a new access to First Community Village via a Waltham Road driveway that is designed to eliminate cut-through traffic to nearby Fifth Avenue, said Todd Hutchins, NCR public-relations director.

The Fairfax will replace 30 garden villas described as "aging" and "outdated" in a May 2018 staff report by the Upper Arlington Planning Division. That report said the project would yield "a high-quality independent-living facility" that would serve the needs of current and future seniors and "ensure the long-term sustainability of the First Community Village." 

Tabit said roof, exterior brick and stonework and windows are completed, and efforts are turning to interior construction. 

The Fairfax also will create a fourth dining option on FCV’s 30-acre campus. 

Tabit said the project will introduce a new kind of “senior lifestyle” for residents who wish to remain physically active. Its wellness center will offer cardio classes, a yoga studio, exercise equipment room and spa services. 

He also noted the addition will connect to the FCV’s main building, The Chelsea, via a glass-enclosed corridor.   

“The master plan calls for carefully manicured pocket gardens, winding roads, patio areas and unique landscape features to give residents more outdoor spaces to enjoy, punctuated by 57 new trees,” he said. 

Tabit said 72% of The Fairfax units are considered occupied, with “a number of deposits pending” for others. 

That’s down from the 85% of units NCR reported were pre-sold in February, but Tabit said some depositors opted to move into other FCV accommodations because of more immediate needs. He said leasing for The Fairfax remains ahead of schedule. 

nellis@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekNate