Greens at Cannondale says market for assisted living facilities in town is weak

Officials of The Greens at Cannondale have responded to a proposed assisted living facility on the site of the former Young’s Nurseries on Danbury Road by indicating to the Planning and Zoning Commission the market need is exaggerated.
Fred Rzepka, director of The Greens, said in an Oct. 17 letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission that the Greens’ experience since opening in 1998 shows there is weak demand for assisted living units for residents of the town.
“Less than 20% of our admissions over the past three years came either from residents of Wilton (9%) or from those who lived outside Wilton but whose families were in Wilton (10%),” Rzepka said in the letter, whose contents were not mentioned at the commission meeting Oct. 24.
“The move-ins are primarily from elsewhere in Fairfield County or other Connecticut towns,” the letter said.
There are now 171 assisted living units in Wilton and a total of 501 units within 11 miles, from facilities including Brookdale Wilton, The Greens, Brightview, New Canaan Inn, Maplewood of Norwalk, and Ridgefield Crossing, he said. “That is more than sufficient to supply the needs of Wilton seniors,” he said.
Instead of 90 units of assisted living, with 10% reserved for affordable housing, as proposed, the Young’s Nurseries site could accommodate 45 units of market-rate independent senior housing, Rzepka concluded in his letter.
The plan is for 90 housing units in an 80,000- to 90,000-square-foot building on a three-acre site. Ten percent of the units would be reserved as affordable housing units.
That is too congested for current zoning regulations, and the developer is seeking an amendment to the regulations for assisted living facilities so the proposed project could fit on the three-acre space.
Mark De Pecol of Senior Living Development Co. said the facility would bring approximately $500,000 a year to the town’s tax base.
“It’s hard to say on tax revenues, but probably $500,000 based on a $25-million project,” De Pecol said.
The assisted living facility has stirred up talk in town.
De Pecol responded to the Oct. 17 letter in an email by saying the company had a market study done that showed a 160-bed deficiency for assisted living in the Wilton “primary market area,” which is a five-mile radius including other towns, and a 178-bed deficiency for memory care. “The commission wanted an additional study done with a 10-mile radius. We commissioned that study, which showed an 832-bed deficiency for assisted living and a 735-bed deficiency for memory care,” De Pecol said.
The developer also noted a statement from the brokerage firm handling the Young’s Nurseries transaction, which said it had received five full-price offers from other assisted living companies as well as a dozen other inquires from similar companies, after it was under contract.
“Most assisted living companies employ their own market analysts, as the project cost for a facility is $25 million to $30 million and they need to ensure market viability,” De Pecol said.
The commission will take up the discussion again at its next meeting, Nov. 13.