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BOMA sees assisted living facility plan

Site plan for the proposed assisted living facility.

Coming on the heels of a generally positive neighborhood response to a planned assisted living facility behind an abandoned Kroger store near Murfreesboro Road, city officials have seen the project for the first time.

"This will be a walkable community for seniors," Paul Lebovitz, landscape architect with Gamble Design Collaborative, told a special meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of Thursday evening.

"Kroger may have moved out of the shopping center, but a grocery store may take its place in the future. This development allows for connectivity for seniors. It gives them a chance to go somewhere without a car. There will be a sidewalk in front of all units."

The proposal calls for the creation of a one-story assisted living facility with 68 rooms, two courtyards, and medical care available to patients who have dementia, Alzheimer's, or other age-related maladies. A row of townhomes will be built for seniors who want more independence but also want access to the assisted living facility. The townhomes will have three bedrooms, including the master on the first floor, and both wheelchair accessible entrances and garages.

"I've been in the assisted living business for over 20 years in Williamson County," said Richard Chavez, owner of the Southern Care Senior Living Center on Carothers Parkway.

"The whole idea is to create affordable care. Corporate companies make it so much more expensive and charge $6,000 to $6,500 per month. I charge $2,800 per month for the center on Carothers. I designed this building to be one story. It's very difficult for residents and staff to have two stories during emergencies."

Chavez said the townhomes, which will be sold around the $300,000 to the $350,000 price range will complement the facility.

"Folks in a townhome will get a meal, which will allow the staff to check on them and ensure that they are safe," he said. "We will provide a shuttle bus for store runs or to take them wherever they want to go. Working folks do not have a place to put their loved ones right now. If you have money, you have options but if you don't, you need something affordable."

Greg Gamble, the principle architect on this project, said that this proposal requires three exceptions to the zoning designation.

"We want to reduce the foundation requirement from 18 inches to eight inches in order to make the townhomes wheelchair accessible. We need a modification to the building length to 381 ft. for the assisted living facility to keep it one story. We also want a modification to have just one garage door in order to make the garages wheelchair accessible."

Gamble also vowed he would not propose these kinds of modifications for any other project in Franklin.

"As part of a senior campus, I feel like this is appropriate," he said.

The assisted living campus would be situated next to Grace Church, where several hundred attend its Sunday services.

"A lot of churches are growing beyond capacity -- are the streets wide enough to accommodate it?" said Mike Hathaway, chairman of the city planning commission.

Gamble responded that the church's parking lot meets the current needs of the church.

City staff has not yet made a recommendation for this project. It will most likely appear before the planning commission in October.

Gamble said after the meeting that they hope to break ground next April. It will take a year and one-half to complete the project.

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