Senior housing: Stafford Village redevelopment project poised to begin soon

Fire crews train on buildings planned for demolition

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Lt. Jim Wells and firefighter/paramedic Joe Pichert with Worthington Fire and Emergency Medical Services work on forced entry during training at Stafford Village on March 31. The training was done on a building that is expected to be demolished to make way for National Church Residences' 85-unit redevelopment of the Stafford Village senior-housing community at 814 Hartford St.

Correction: National Church Residences no longer operates senior-living communities in Puerto Rico. An earlier online version of this story indicated otherwise.

Construction of National Church Residences’ 85-unit redevelopment of the Stafford Village senior-housing community at 814 Hartford St. is expected to begin within the month. 

Senior project leader George Tabit told ThisWeek Worthington News on March 31 that work on the redevelopment was slated to begin within the next 30 days.

City of Worthington spokesperson Anne Brown said that as of ThisWeek's press time April 2, National Church Residences, a nonprofit that operates more than 300 senior-living communities in 25 states and owns Stafford Village, hadn’t applied for a demolition permit. 

Tabit said the redevelopment has a 19-month construction timeline and an anticipated opening date planned for late 2022. 

The redevelopment, which was approved for a planned-unit development by City Council in February 2020 and received final approval by the Architectural Review Board and Municipal Planning Commission in July 2020, will feature 85 one- to two-bedroom apartments and will renovate a historical single-family home on the property into a cottage residence, Tabit said. 

He said the site also would include 34 one-bedroom affordable apartments reserved for lower-income seniors. Those units initially would be held for residents who had been relocated temporarily ahead of construction.

Previous residents who initially opt for those units may return to Stafford Village at the original rate they paid, he said. 

“We are committed to ensuring that every resident has an apartment they can return to at their original rent,” he said. 

Other amenities at the new development will include a bistro café, a fitness area and a salon, among others, he said. 

Seven single-story apartments on the site are scheduled to be demolished to make room for the redevelopment at Stafford Village. National Church Residences developed the site in collaboration with Worthington Presbyterian Church in the 1970s and acquired the portion owned by the church in 2016

Stafford Village residents were relocated to other communities in past years in anticipation of the project, according to spokesman Todd Hutchins. Most of the residents moved out by late 2019 as the project, which had been in the works for several years, started to take shape

Tabit said once it's fully occupied, the nonprofit expects the new development to accommodate 110 to 120 seniors. 

Worthington Fire and Emergency Medical Services took advantage of the upcoming demolition recently by conducting training exercises at Stafford Village in the area of Stafford Avenue and Hartford Street from March 30 to April 1. 

Fire crews executed several training drills on the site, including pulling hose lines, practicing forced-entry and search-and-rescue techniques. 

“Often when a building is due to be demolished, the (fire department) will contact the property owner and request to use the facility for training purposes,” Brown said. “The empty buildings are a good environment for firefighters to train in techniques of forced entry and rescue where we may need to break down doors or other structures to reach people in an emergency. Crews have trained in a variety of locations in the area whenever the opportunity arises.” 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve