Mashpee Commons Plans Assisted Living Residence With Emphasis On Memory Loss

Mashpee Commons is first out of the starting gate in what appeared this winter to be a race to develop an assisted living facility in town.

Mashpee Commons Limited Partnership announced this week a deal with National Development to purchase a 3.7-acre property at the corner of Donna’s Lane and Great Neck Road South and build a one story, 54-unit memory care assisted living residence.

National Development, a Newton-based firm that has built more than 20 assisting living facilities in New England, will develop and own the project, while Epoch Senior Living will operate it. Mashpee Commons will retain rights to review site, architectural, and landscape plans, company vice president Douglas S. Storrs said this week.

“It is a use that is important to the community and that has very little environmental impact upon the site or the community. It has a great range of wage-level jobs and will provide new tax revenue, which obviously in this day and age is needed,” Mr. Storrs said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Mr. Storrs said there is a long planning and permitting process ahead, but he hopes to get the project started “as soon as possible.” Construction is expected to start in late 2012.

Ted Tye, managing partner of National Development, said the firm conducted a detailed market analysis and found that, given the high senior population and the level of similar services in the area, the project would be a good fit in Mashpee.

“We have been looking in the area, and these decisions aren’t made by the seat of the pants. The decision is made by looking at demographics, the number of senior residents, and we see a strong need in the Mashpee area for this type of option for seniors,” Mr. Tye said, adding that the facility will be aimed at attracting residents from around the region.

Mr. Storrs said the project is one the commons has long heard interest in from the community.

Those demographics appear to have caught the eye of others as well. Last October Ronald S. Bonvie, the developer of Southport on Cape Cod senior living development in Mashpee, and the town Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, both expressed interest in assisted living projects.

The EDIC, a semi-public agency focused on economic development, ended up backing off from its plans after selectmen declined to support the project.

Mr. Bonvie did not return a message left yesterday inquiring of the status of his plans.

Mr. Storrs said he has already informed town officials of the plans.

“We have obviously come through a pretty depressing period in terms of future growth in our community and the ability to provide new jobs and new tax revenue,” Mr. Storrs said. “I think this is a good indication that banks are starting to lend money again and we are getting back to hopefully a more normal and well-planned approach to the center of the community.”

The project is located in the East Steeple Street section of the commons, a largely undeveloped area wedged between Route 28, Great Neck Road South, Donna’s Lane, and the rotary.

While Mashpee Commons LP owns most of the land in the development, Mr. Storrs said the company has long planned to sell sections of it to be developed by others, while retaining control of the project’s aesthetics. First Citizens’ Credit Union recently went through a similar process to develop the new bank at the corner of Job’s Fishing Road and Route 28.

“Even though we are selling a parcel, it is very much a partnership approach,” Mr. Storrs said.

The building will be between 40,000 and 45,000 square feet, Mr. Tye said, a size that will trigger review by the Cape Cod Commission as a “development of regional impact.”

By comparison, the Mashpee Care and Rehabilitation facility on Route 28 is 43,000 square feet, according to records from the town assessors office.

Mr. Storrs said after the commission, it will go to the Mashpee Planning Board for a special permit.

Details of the project are not yet available, Mr. Storrs said, but will be released as the plans are developed.

Both Mr. Storrs and Mr. Tye declined to comment on the price of the sale and the level of investment the project will require from National Development.

Mr. Tye said the project will specialize in memory loss treatments, a focus meant to meet a growing need in the senior population.

“What is really happening in the greater universe is that seniors are living longer, and as they live longer, there are more seniors being afflicted with memory loss issues such as Alzheimer’s,” Mr. Tye said. “It is the largest area of need within the senior housing industry.”

The building will be split up into three “households,” Mr. Tye said, each with individual apartments and shared living areas and gardens.

“It is all meant to be manageable and understandable for residents with memory loss,” he said.

National Development has built several other projects in Massachusetts, including two now underway in Hingham and Westford. The only project the firm has developed on Cape Cod is Heritage at Falmouth, on the campus of Falmouth Hospital, a project now operated by the hospital.

Epoch Senior Living operates more than 2,000 elderly care units around New England, including facilities in Harwich and Brewster.

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