Sunrise details proposal for 80-unit facility in Vienna

by Brian Trompeter

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018 9:00 am EDT


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Central Vienna could be home to an assisted-living facility with ground-floor retail if a proposal by Sunrise Assisted Living eventually wins the town’s approval.

Sunrise is seeking to build an approximately 80-unit senior-living facility at the northeast corner of Maple Avenue, E., and Center Street, N.

Company officials have not formally submitted their application, but outlined their plans at an Aug. 20 work session with the Vienna Town Council and Vienna Planning Commission.

The four-story Sunrise facility would be built at 100-110 Maple Ave., E., and feature about 8,500 square feet of ground-floor commercial or retail space, with the assisted-living units occupying the top three floors. The property currently is home to a pair of vacant medical-office buildings.

A small ground-floor entrance area at the new building’s southwest corner would serve as the entrance for the Sunrise facility and lead up to a mezzanine featuring common areas and a foyer. The building’s third floor would be a secured area for patients with memory problems.

The ground-floor retail area would have a ceiling 19 or 20 feet tall and accommodate up to three stores.

An array of building materials and articulated façades would give the building the architectural variety and interest sought under the town’s Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) ordinance, said Jerry Liang, senior vice president of development for Sunrise.

“Our goal is to help beautify this particular corridor and this particular corner,” he said.

The building would be 54 feet tall and its highest point above that would be a corniced section at Maple Avenue and Center Street. Sunrise would use mansard roofs and other lower-profile options to make the rest of the roofline appear lower.

The building would have a total of 60 parking spaces, 17 of which would be located at-grade and used by retail customers. The rest would be situated in an underground parking garage and used by the assisted-living facility’s visitors and employees.

That amount of parking likely would be sufficient because the Sunrise residents on average would be about 85 years old and not be driving anymore, Liang said.

The site also would have a landscaped “pocket park” along its eastern edge, which is bordered by the Vienna Inn. A central courtyard inside the building would be used primarily by the assisted-living residents.

Sunrise would provide flexible ride-sharing and drop-off spaces along Center Street, N., and those areas could handle ambulances or other emergency vehicles.

Challenges remain at the property, Liang said. The applicant will have to work around a storm-sewer easement that cannot be relocated and a sanitary-sewer easement that must be moved, he said. The site also is at a low point topographically, so the applicant will have to take precautions against flooding.

“Our team has spent a lot of time working the Rubik’s Cube,” Liang said.

Council members disagreed over whether the site was ideal for a senior-living facility. Member Howard Springsteen worried that noise from fire engines and ambulances coming from the town’s fire station a few blocks away on Center Street, S., might disturb residents.

But Council member Carey Sienicki said buildings easily may be sound-proofed and added the proximity of Patrick Henry Library, retail shops, the Town Green and other Vienna amenities would make the location ideal for seniors and their family members.

“It’s quite depressing when you visit your parents and have no place to take them,” agreed Planning Commissioner Mary McCullough.

Several other Planning Commissioners also spoke favorably about Sunrise’s proposal.

“This is sort of the ideal resident,” Planning Commissioner Sarah Couchman said of those who would live at the site. “They aren’t going to be taxing our schools and other resources.”

Commission member Walter Basnight Jr. concurred.

“I love this town and I don’t ever want to leave it,” he said. “A place like this, with the reputation [Sunrise has], is what I want.”

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