Construction of 160-unit senior living facility underway

Construction of a new 160-unit senior living facility has started on Beard Sawmill Road, off Bridgeport Avenue and behind Wells Hollow Farm.

Brightview Senior Living plans to open the multi-level facility in 2019, creating about 100 full- and part-time jobs. The facility will have 86 independent living units, 48 assisted living units, and 26 units for people with dementia such as Alzheimer's disease.

The site is near Old Stratford Road and Route 8, and residents may have noticed all the grading work taking place on the elevated site in recent months. It appears the building's concrete foundation is in the process of being poured now.

Julie Masiello, Brightview vice president of marketing and sales, said Shelton was selected for the Maryland-based company's second facility in Connecticut because it's an "underserved market."

Masiello said prospective facility residents are usually people who have lived in the area and no longer need a large home. "They usually want to stay in the community where they have put down roots," she said.

Other people may move into the facility because they have adult children who live in Shelton or surrounding towns. "The adult children want a community where their parents can live close to them," Masiello said.

Brightview may add another building with up to 90 living units in a second phase, leading to 250 units in total.

The initial building will occupy 7.9 acres of a 10.9-acre parcel. It is a separate lot created as part of a Planned Development District for the abutting Hawks Ridge housing development in 2014. Access to the 41-acre Hawks Ridge community of single-family homes and townhouse condominiums, still under construction, is from Long Hill Cross Road.

As part of the Brightview plan, the developer will make improvements to Beard Sawmill Road, now a narrow, winding and hilly street. Parts of the road will be widened to 26 feet and some bumps flattened out to improve driver sightlines.

"The length of the road reconstruction is approximately 800 feet and will improve the most deficient section of Beard Sawmill Road," City Engineer Robert Kulacz wrote in a memo.

Beard Sawmill runs between Bridgeport Avenue and Far Mill Crossing, going under Route 8 near two office complexes and the Stratford border.

The developer's traffic expert said the 160-unit senior living facility "is not expected to have a significant impact to traffic operations," and potentially expanding to 250 units "would generate a very low amount of additional traffic ... due to the nature of the assisted living use."

Senior living communities are considered low traffic generators because residents generally don't own cars and employees' shifts are spread out over a 24-hour period. The facility will have a shuttle van available to residents.

The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the Brightview facility in April 2017. Another assisted living facility previously had been approved for the site but never constructed.

The building will be three to four stories, have both one-and two-bedroom units, outdoor courtyards, 125 parking spaces, and one driveway on Beard Sawmill. The building's farmhouse-type architectural design is intended to reflect the location, formally part of the neighboring farm.

"We designed the community to fit with the aesthetic of Wells Hollow Farm," Masiello said.

She said another plus to the location is its proximity " to shops, restaurants and the convenience of Route 8."

Brightview Senior Living operates 35 facilities in the Northeast, from Virginia to Massachusetts. The company opened its first Connecticut facility in Norwalk in 2016.