The shovels could be in the ground as soon as next week for the first phase of Linden Square, an assisted living and memory care center planned by Reenders, Inc., at the soccer fields at Maple Road and Woodland Drive.
The City of Saline Planning Commission approved the final site plan for the $9 million, 57-unit first phase. The planning commission’s approval is contingent on several factors, including city review of the water, sewer and storm water plan for the project.
The vote almost didn’t happen. With commissioner Bill Beardsley absent, chairperson Scott Lemm still at work, and commissioners Walt Byers and Brian Marl unable to vote because of a conflict of interest, the nine-member planning commission didn’t have the six votes needed to approve the site plan.
With Reenders Inc., scheduled to close on the property Thursday, officials from the company were disappointed at the idea of delaying the matter for a month.
Mayor Gretchen Driskell, a member of the commission, apologized for the situation as city superintendent Gary Roubal and recording secretary Connie DeHaan attempted to reach Beardsley and Lemm.
Lemm arrived and, after questions from commissioners, the body voted 6-0 with two abstentions to approve the site plan.
Higgins, who prior to the meeting said the first phase should be ready for occupancy by spring, told planners that Reenders Inc. is confident in the Saline market.
“We can’t get financing for phase two until phase one is stabilized. In prior developments, that has happened as soon as nine months after opening the first phase, or as long as six or seven years. We’re confident in the Saline market and believe it will be a shorter time rather than a longer time,” Higgins said.
The second phase is a 55-unit portion which will mirror the first phase to its east. In all, Reenders is proposing a 51,506 square-foot facility on 6.89 acres it is purchasing from Saline Area Schools. The entrance to the facility will be from Woodland Drive.
Commissioner Richard Nehring wanted assurances that the construction company would be mindful of all the school children walking in the area.
“It is a highly traveled area with children going back and forth. Kids are used to cutting through there. When construction starts, I plead that you’ll police it so that there are no problems,” Nehring said.
Higgins said the firm’s construction manager has already spoken to him about precautions.
“We are planning on that. There will definitely be fencing. We want to be a good neighbor,” Higgins said.
Commissioner Cheryl Hoeft said she appreciated Reenders’ patience and said the rendering of the first phase of the project looked nice.
Prior to the meeting Reenders officials said the company owned 15 similar facilities. Entry level pricing for Linden Square is about $2,500 a month, Higgins said, with prices increasing depending on the level of service desired.