Assisted-living facility proposed for corner of Curci and Meridian

The third time may be a charm for the corner of Curci Drive and Meridian Avenue, after prior attempts to develop the property failed.

An assisted-living community for senior citizens is being proposed to replace the vacant lot on that corner. The lot, a former service station, has been unused and an eyesore for more than two years.

Land use consultant Eric Schoennauer and San Jose city planner Rebekah Ross presented the plans to residents at a lightly attended community meeting June 21.

A previous plan to turn the land into an assisted-living community with 130 units was scrapped in late 2004 after the developers failed to come up with necessary funds for the project. Since then, the 1.17-acre site has been suggested for use as an office building, as well as a townhouse development. Both of those plans also fell through.

Schoennauer, the project’s representative, pointed out the developer had learned from prior mistakes and this go-around designed a project that was smaller and aesthetically more pleasing to the neighborhood.

That fact was evident in the proposed size. The new development has fewer units than the assisted-living facility proposed in 2004, has more open space and is not configured to extend the entire length of Curci Drive between Meridian and St. Elizabeth avenues.

The new project would include 98 month-to-month rental units, ranging from studios to two-bedroom apartments. Fourteen of those will be dedicated to patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The facility will also include an underground parking garage with 67 parking spaces, including two handicapped spots. The garage will serve both residents and their visitors.

The majority of the facility will have four stories, but the southern portion of the facility, which borders neighboring homes, will only be two stories. The project will also be set back from neighboring homes, separated by a fenced courtyard and a lawn with numerous walking paths. The park-like environment is intended to appease residents who are worried about unsightly developments in their neighborhood. The park will extend around the side of the building to include a public paseo or walkway, which will connect to a city park being developed on the corner of Curci and St. Elizabeth drives.

Construction will take anywhere from 14 to 18 months. Once completed, the facility will be run by Merrill Gardens Retirement Communities, which owns and operates 66 communities in 11 states.

Schoennauer urged residents to consider the benefits of having an assisted-living environment in the community, citing the fact that Willow Glen has the largest percentage of senior citizens of any other neighborhood in San Jose.

“Don’t think of it as just a development,” he said. “Think of it as a service to the community.”

The project is still in the initial review phase, and must still undergo environmental and planning reviews before it can be reviewed by the planning commission and city council.

This piece originally appeared in the Willow Glen Resident.

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