CONWAY — A proposal to create a four-phased retirement community on Pine Hill with a medical center, a 55-and-older cottage cluster, assisted living, retail center and market-rate condominiums, all off Eagles Way and Route 302, is slated to come before the Conway Planning Board for site-plan review early this summer, developers say.
Project consultant Shawn Bergeron of Bergeron Technical Services of Conway said the involved parties are motivated to come before the board by July 9 so work on some infrastructure, including roads, could get started.
The phased project could take up to five years to complete.
“We are working on some issues with the state Department of Transportation regarding the amount of traffic the development will create,” Bergeron said Monday.
He said the plans were sent to Town Planning Director Tom Irving for preliminary review Jan. 10.
Pending approvals, the project by Continuum Health Services of Lewiston, Maine, intends to build:
• A 125,000-square-foot, two-story assisted-living facility that would take two to three years for construction and permitting,
• A 42,000-square-foot, three-story medical office building next-door. Both would be accessed via a yet-to-be-built road that would connect with Eagles Way, the road that provides access to Kennett High from Route 302.
• Thirty-three independent living cottages for ages 55-plus measuring 1,400 square feet each.
• A three-building, 14,000-square-foot retail complex consisting of a 4,000-square-foot restaurant, a 3,300-square-foot bank building and a 14,000-square-foot retail store at the intersection of Eagles Way and Eastman Road (Route 302).
• Two, three-story condominium buildings with 180 market-rate, non-age-restricted units in two buildings with parking underneath. The buildings would measure 42,500 square feet and 27,200 square feet.
Bergeron presented a conceptual review of the project to the planning board in August 2018. But the plans have changed since then, according to Bergeron and property owner Bayard Kennett of the Kennett Co., who is selling the land to Continuum Health Services.
Continuum's principal Joe Hogan of Lewiston confirmed the new layout to the Sun this week.
Bergeron, Kennett and Hogan said one of the changes from the earlier proposal is that the proposed condominiums will now meet the town zoning ordinance’s 45-foot eight restrictions, meaning that no special exceptions would be required.
Continuum project manager Mike Black said the condos will be on the west side of Eagles Way, with carports underneath (in an effort to reduce building footprint space)/
The second major change is the proposed medical center and assisted living center are now to be located on a flat parcel of land owned by the Kennett Co. across from the Walmart retention pond off Route 302.
Hogan and Sarah O'Sullivan, Continuum’s director of marketing and development, said Continuum wants to complement existing senior health services in the region.
They said that Continuum has had ongoing talks with Memorial Hospital President Art Mathison and Memorial board members regarding possibly purchasing Merriman House’s nursing bed units should the hospital choose to get out of the nursing home business.
Both parties have agreed to keep those negotiations on hold during the current pandemic crisis, Mathison and O’Sullivan said.
Founded in the 1970s, Continuum has four senior-care campuses, all in Maine.
Hogan noted that to date, due to vigilant measures, the campuses are all COVID-19 free.
“We attribute that record to the leadership of our team leaders,” said Hogan. “We are proud of our staff. They are our heroes, and we are doing everything we can to support them.”
Asked to comment on the proposal, Dr. Marianne Jackson of Madison, co-convener of MWV Age-Friendly, a volunteer group, said the valley has made progress in recent years on senior issues with the opening of such facilities as the MWV Adult Day Center, but more is needed.
“This could create a living alternative to the other continuing care retirement communities that people leave the valley to go to," she said.
Jackson, a retired physician, added: "Our senior citizens have a lot to offer, and a community like this could enable our seniors ot continue to live here in the valley and continue to contribute to our social fabric.”
For more information about Continuum Health Services, call (207) 782-4797 or go to mainecare.com.