ROTTERDAM -- A local developer is proposing an $87 million, 680-unit senior complex on Helderberg Avenue that would allow senior citizens to "age in place" -- from home ownership to independent living to assisted care, as needed.
Facilities that allow people to transition through housing options as they age have become common in parts of the country with many retirees, but they are unusual in the Northeast.
"It's a need that we don't meet here," said developer Lou Lecce of The Lecce Development Group in Latham.
The proposed Village at Whispering Pines would be built on the site of the Whispering Pines Golf Club, which would remain but be reduced in size from 18 holes to an executive-style nine-hole course next to the state Thruway.
Lecce said the complex would employ at least 250 in a variety of positions, from health aides to food service to grounds keeping.
Lecce made an initial presentation to the Rotterdam Town Board Wednesday night; the board would need to approve a zoning change before the project could go forward.
"Overall, the reaction from the board was extremely positive," said Town Supervisor Steve Tommasone. "For the town, this is extremely exciting. We have senior apartments, but we do not have any facilities like this, where you can move from independent living to assisted care and that has all of these other amenities. It will help families to remain in Rotterdam."
Lecce said it's a great use for the property, in part because the land borders the Thruway, the proximity of which might discourage single-family residential development.
Lecce said the development group has the roughly 90-acre property at 2200 Helderberg Ave. under purchase contract.
"There's ample room, in my view, for what they're trying to do there," Tommasone said.
The project, as proposed, would include 278 independent living apartments, to be built in three phases, plus 144 assisted living units, 108 units of "memory care" nursing home-style care, and 150 single-family cottages. It would be served by public sewer and water. It would cater to those 55 and older.
"It won't be built all at once," Lecce said. "It will be built as need arises, over maybe five or six years."
In addition to housing and apartments, planned amenities include a new golf course clubhouse with restaurant, a residential dining hall and cafe, an indoor pool and fitness center, personal care, recreation, conference and business facilities and outdoor gathering areas connected by walking trails.
Golf course membership would be included for all who move into the facility, Lecce said, and the course and restaurants would remain open to the public. He said purchase and rental prices had not been determined.
The project is being designed by Mackenzie Architects of Burlington, Vermont, which specializes in developing senior communities.
Tommasone said he hopes that, during the planning process, the town will be able to negotiate some benefits for all the town's senior citizens. The project would be a planned unit development, which means the town Planning Commission would review it and make recommendations before forwarding it to the Town Board for a final determination.
"They will go to Rotterdam Senior Association next month, let them know about the project and get their feedback," Tommasone said.
Lecce said he hopes to get the necessary town approvals in place within the next year and start construction in 2018.
"We just think the concept of a village community where you can age in place with facilities and walking trails is something a lot of people will be attracted to," he said.
Lecce's other development projects have included the Albany Medical Center building in Niskayuna and Vly Point, a condominium project on Route 7.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.