Retirement facility plans scaled back

January 03, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

A Columbia couple that wants to build a retirement community on the site of the former Elkridge Drive-In has scaled back the project.

In addition, the couple is now hoping to obtain financing for the project through a chicken restaurant franchise.

Barry and Charu Mehta decided to cut back the project in part because a Baltimore property management company is moving ahead with another senior-citizen complex in Elkridge.

But the Mehtas say they remain committed to building the revised project, which calls for a 45-bed assisted-living facility and an 80-person adult day care center.

"We're still committed to doing what we promised everyone we would do," Mr. Mehta said.

Originally, the couple planned an independent-living facility with two or three apartment buildings for the elderly, a 200-bed nursing home, retail and medical offices, and a combined meeting hall and day care center for the elderly.

A Taco Bell restaurant was supposed to be part of the project, but Taco Bell Corp. chose a different site.

Mr. Mehta said Shelter Development Corp.'s plans for a 100-unit independent-living complex on U.S. 1 for senior citizens prompted the couple to change its plans.

That project, which still requires zoning approval, could open in 1995 or 1996.

"We shifted our focus to assisted living," Mr. Mehta said. "We have a different product to offer. We won't have head-on competition with big companies like Shelter Development Corp."

Mr. Mehta also said he reduced the size of the retirement community because assisted-living programs traditionally have fewer residents than independent-living facilities.

"It's a more personable facility," he said of assisted-living programs. "Typically they are smaller [than independent-living programs]."

The Mehtas' new assisted-living facility would be built by a health care or property management company that deals with housing for the elderly. That company would lease the land from the Mehtas.

But the couple would build and operate the elderly day care center themselves, Mr. Mehta said.

Initial costs were to have been financed through a Taco Bell restaurant on the Mehtas' 17.3-acre property on Washington Boulevard near Bonnie View Lane.

The Mehtas had planned to obtain capital for roads, utilities, and sewer and water pipes for the senior citizen housing complex through the restaurant deal.

But in November, after nearly a year of negotiations, corporate officials of Taco Bell rejected the Mehtas' site in favor of the more visible 1.1-acre lot near Montgomery Road.

"The major reason I couldn't get corporate approval is that they felt you have to be closer to Montgomery Road," said Zoltan Nagy, real estate manager for Taco Bell Corp.

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