By: Chase Cook, Capital Gazette reporter
While the project’s size and scope may change, the resistance continues.
At a public meeting hosted by the developer Thursday night, Annapolis residents continued to air grievances and concerns about a senior-living development along Forest Drive and Spa Road. That project is being proposed by National Lutheran Communities and Services, a religious non-profit that runs senior living communities in Maryland and Virginia.
For years the land along the intersection of Forest Drive and Spa Road was tied to the Crystal Spring project, a more than $200 million development that would have brought residential housing, a hotel, retail and senior living. It was a project that stoked the ire of residents, some of whom thought it would bring about too much traffic and cause irreparable damage to dozens of acres of trees.
Because of that opposition, the Lutheran group — which was originally partnered with the developers of Crystal Spring — moved to build the senior living portion of the project on its own. The project was renamed The Village at Providence Point.
Despite shrinking the scope of the project and changing the name, residents at the public meeting at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church still had concerns. About 35 people attended the meeting, which featured a power point presentation, free cookies and coffee.
Chief among residents’ concerns was an influx of traffic along Forest Drive and Spa Road. Another major concern included the clearing of about 27 acres of forest — the Lutheran group does plan to do some replanting and conserving about 18 acres of trees on the site.
“Why don’t they build it somewhere else (in Annapolis),” said Jean-Marie Lesko, an Annapolis resident “I don’t have anything against them, but the location is not great.”
Larry Bradshaw, president and CEO of National Lutheran Communities and Services, tried to assuage those concerns.
This project is much smaller and has less impact than the original Crystal Spring plan, Bradshaw said.
“I’m using the legacy to compare and contrast,” Bradshaw said. “What we heard before was ‘It is way too big…'”
The project is proposed to bring a total of 393 senior living units and 48 health care units over about 27 acres of land. That’s an increase of 11 more senior living units than an unveiled proposal in February.
It will have a road, dubbed Skipper Lane, that will connect Forest Drive and Spa Road through the community, which could help with traffic along those roads, Bradshaw said at the meeting.
The original Crystal Spring project included a version of the senior living development, but it also included non age-restricted housing, retail sites and a proposed hotel.
The updated project will be home to about 500 residents, with an expected average age of about 75 plus, Bradshaw told the audience. Residents that old typically don’t drive, so the project isn’t expected to bring in a large number of trips, especially during rush hour, he said.
The project also will create about 400 full-time construction jobs and about 200 full- and part-time jobs within the development, such as caretakers, nurses for the seniors living there, according to slides provided at the meeting.
The project has not been formally submitted to the city for approval. The developers anticipate to make that submission in April.
Approval of a project is never guaranteed: the city has seen that with the dissolution of the original Crystal Spring plan.
But it’s a guarantee that residents will follow this project like they did Crystal Spring.
“It’s hard to believe something different is going to happen until there is a plan,” said Virginia Ryker, of Annapolis. “The actual consequences of the project are bigger than the land.”