SKANEATELES | As neighbors clash over the possible construction of a sports and wellness center on Route 20 on the east side town, another developer has an eye on building a nearly 44,500 square-foot senior housing community across the street.

The Skaneateles Town Planning Board heard details from the project's developers, Mike McCracken and Robin Casper of KW Commercial, at its meeting Feb. 19.

During the informal discussion, the developers asked for the board's comments on the assisted and independent living housing they propose to build on the 13.5-acre site of the former Bombard Chevrolet dealership. Adjacent properties are under contract, they said, and if purchased would expand the total project to 24 acres.

"The original reason for going for additional acreage wasn't to extend the footprint of the facility, it was to accommodate a septic system, a septic field," McCracken said.

The plan consists of four buildings and a gazebo, plus walking trails, outdoor recreation areas, parking areas and sidewalks. Developers say the facility would create an attractive development in the east side of town.

McCracken explained that the facility would allow those area residents approaching retirement age who are considering moving to more temperate climes to retain summer properties in Skaneateles.

"We realized there was a need here and that market was underserved," he said.

The developers described building a 75-unit community to suit active adults, 55 and older. Amenities would include shuttle transportation,  pet, laundry and maid service.

"The equivalent of living in a five-star hotel," Casper said.

The units would not be condominiums, rather residents would rent units ranging from one- to two-bedroom apartments to larger villas. The design has communal living and dining area, plenty of green space and five retention ponds.

"We want this entire complex to look like it's been there forever," Casper said. "We want it to fit in with the feel and the theme of Skaneateles. We don't want it to look like a building that just got plopped there."

The newest member to the planning board, Beth Estes, asked if the units pricing would allow for residents with a range of incomes.

"Probably not for this project because of the expense of the property that we're purchasing," Casper said. "In order to make affordable senior housing, and it's always a possibility for a different project at another time, but it'd have to be further out where the property is a little cheaper."

The parties, including project architect Leif Kallquist, discussed the potential of retail elements and the project's accessibility to drinking water, wastewater disposal, fire flow and a septic system.

"As it stands right now you can't use any water," said Doug Wickman, planning board engineer, "because the system in the town does not meet current standards and the health department is aware of that. They will not allow a connection to the system to add to that problem. So if you're going to progress this project, you actually need to improve the water system as a part of it, so it may not have to come all the way to current standards, but it has to get better than it is today."

Carrie Chantler may be reached at 685-5701 or carrie.chantler@lee.net

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