PEPPERELL — Michelle and Doug Wright remain in waiting for approval of their plans for a new private senior living facility in town.
The Conservation Commission was set to hold a public hearing on July 23 regarding the couple’s application to turn the properties of 42 to 46 Mill St. into Rivers Edge Senior Living. The commission noted that there wasn’t enough “sufficient information in the field” to make an opinion on the Wrights’ proposal. The commission plans to hold the public hearing on August 6.
Though she and her husband aren’t local residents, Michelle said that she and her husband have done several prior building projects in Pepperell. This particular project started, according to Michelle, thanks to a family issue.
“It started with my mother-in-law, who turns 80 this year and lives in upstate New York,” she said last Friday. “Owning a house for an 80-year-old woman is a lot to handle so she was looking for an independent senior living space, not necessarily a nursing home. So I started thinking about it after she couldn’t find a place. The older population here is growing and they don’t have a place to go.”
Doug said last Wednesday that, if approved, Rivers Edge would be constructed in three phases. The first phase would involve building 16 units consisting of 12 one-bedroom apartments and four studio apartments in a 21,000 square-foot building.
Doug said the one-bedroom apartments would feature a mid-size dining room, a living room and a kitchen. If the apartments yield many residents, the second phase would involve adding 22 more apartments to Rivers Edge in another 22,428 square-foot building. 16 of those 22 apartments would be more one-bedroom units while the other six would be two-bedroom apartments.
If Rivers Edge goes two-for-two, the third phase would add six more two-bedroom apartments, two more studio apartments and 16 more one-bedroom apartments in another 22,428 square-foot building.
Michelle added that, if she and Doug get approval from the town in timely fashion, she’d like to have the first phase open by April 2021. She said that the first set of apartments would be open for about a year before the second phase is completed by April 2023. If that is successful, Michelle hopes that the third phase is completed by April 2025.
Unlike most senior living spaces, Michelle said that Rivers Edge would not require a buy-in fee for those looking to get apartments. While the prices aren’t set in stone, Michelle said she and Doug estimate prices for the studio apartments to be $4,500 per month and two-bedroom apartments could cost up to $7,000 per month.
In addition to the living spaces, Doug said Rivers Edge would also offer three meals a day thanks to a kitchen and dining area. There would also be bus transportation for residents looking to get into town for shopping. Licensed Practical Nurses and Restorative Nurse Assistants would be on-hand to assist residents with dressing or bathing if needed, though Doug noted that Rivers Edge would be a non-medical facility.
Michelle said that she and Doug first approached the Planning Board earlier this year with their plans and the reaction from the board was “overall positive.” She noted how the land where Rivers Edge is set to be placed was home to a former farmhouse and would have no danger against any neighboring endangered species.
“It’s a gorgeous piece of property,” she said. “It’s important that people can get to where they need to go and this is close to locations including the Senior Center.”
Michelle also noted Rivers Edge’s focus on activities for residents. Not only having the buses allowing residents to travel together but also hiring an activities director for the facility.
“These are opportunities for socialization to keep everybody active,” she said. “It’s really important to us that social experiences are available.”
The future of Rivers Edge is still up in the air as the plans have yet to be approved by both the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board.
“I think the fact that we’ll be a family-owned and operated community gives it a personal touch,” Michelle said. “It’s us, and we want to provide a warm, caring, personal environment.”
Jon Winkler: @MrJW595 on Twitter