Assisted Living, Victorian Style, On Its Way

Publish Date:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

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News Organization:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Sunrise Senior Living is set to break ground in September on a 92-bed assisted-living facility in McCandless, the second that the national chain will build in Allegheny County.

The $12 million, 3 1/2-story center will be on Babcock Boulevard behind the North Park Clubhouse lounge and near La Roche College. It's expected to be ready for occupancy by fall 2008.

Bruce Betty, zoning officer, said the project was a major development for McCandless. "We're built out, and so we don't get a lot of new development," he said.

"This serves a need that we have in the town," he added, describing the Sunrise project as being larger than the recently approved Grace Manor assisted-living home near A.W. Beattie Career Center and smaller than the Vincentian Sisters of Charity nursing home-assisted living project at McKnight Road and Perrymont roads.

The 92 beds will be part of 79 units, with the double-occupancy suites costing about $119 a day, including all meals.

Although Sunrise operates five assisted-living facilities in southwestern Pennsylvania, the ones in Monroeville, Green Tree and Mars were acquisitions from a previous company. The 65,000-square-foot, I-shaped facility in McCandless will be most similar in design and size to the Sunrise of Upper St. Clair home on Village Drive, said Sunrise development officer David Ennis.

Like its sister facility in Upper St. Clair, the McCandless home is styled as a Victorian mansion with a wraparound porch and plenty of rocking chairs.

Mr. Betty said the large porch is one of the distinctive amenities in the plans. "It's one of their trademarks, a large wraparound porch, but they are constantly changing their designs," he said.

The proposal cleared zoning hurdles this spring with few complications once the developer was granted a sidewalk variance.

Mr. Betty explained that board officials agreed with Sunrise that the sidewalk extending to a short bridge near the North Park Clubhouse would pose a safety hazard. The walkways on the grounds itself are not affected.

Farther down the pipeline for Sunrise is an assisted-living center being proposed in Moon near Beaver Grade and Coraopolis Heights roads. Mr. Ennis said the plan has been downsized and altered to accommodate township concerns over traffic and parking.

He said the chain has enjoyed success in the Pittsburgh market, which is why it continues to explore new ventures here.

According to its Web site, Sunrise, based in McLean, Va., is the largest senior care living provider in the United States. It operates more than 440 communities throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany with a combined resident capacity of more than 52,000.

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