Firm revives plans for Matthews retirement community
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Saturday, Jul. 19, 2014

Firm revives plans for Matthews retirement community

Erickson Living recently purchased 100 acres at McKee and Pleasant Plains roads in Matthews, known to many in the area as the old Fincher Farm.

The company plans to build a Continuing Care Retirement Community there.

The project probably sounds familiar, as similar plans were presented by Erickson Retirement Communities and approved by the Matthews Town Board in 2007, just before the economic downturn.

“In 2007, Erickson had exciting plans for Matthews,” said Adam Kane, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs for Erickson Living. “They started the development process and had overwhelming interest from people in the area. The land was purchased, plans were approved and marketing was underway, but then the Great Recession started.

“Most new development projects were pulled off the table, and Erickson decided it wasn’t prudent to start the development at that time.”

Erickson Retirement Communities went into bankruptcy shortly after, and PNC Bank foreclosed on the land. Kane said existing Erickson communities were not affected, but no new communities were built.

The land remained vacant, with several different projects proposed over subsequent years, but none panned out.

Erickson Retirement Communities eventually was purchased and recapitalized as Erickson Living; that company approached Matthews last spring about building again.

Erickson Living re-purchased the land from the bank and presented revised plans that reduced the maximum number of independent living units from 1,100 to 900. Kane said Erickson currently is formulating the kinds of health care services to be offered.

Next month, Matthews commissioners will consider a request to change text in the zoning ordinance that would allow CCRC to build permanent marketing facilities onsite.

If that amendment is approved and Erickson Living gets re-approval from the state to build a CCRC, Kane said, the firm would move forward with the $100 million-plus project. Kane estimates marketing units by the fourth quarter of 2015.

Though other minor modifications may be made to the plan, Kane said, the new retirement community would be  similar to the one planned in 2007.

“We’ve been updating our consumer preferences and believe that today’s consumer wants larger units,” he said. “We will be building to demand and will only construct as many units as we sell. We are continuing to update our plans and may make a few more minor modifications but anticipate no major changes.”

Kane said Erickson Living still plans to honor the proffer made to the town in the original agreement including: a $3 million donation toward unspecified road improvements to alleviate traffic concerns in the area; a $1 million donation to the Matthews Park, Recreation and Cultural Resource Department for the construction, improvement or maintenance of parks; a 20-acre donation of land at the corner of McKee and Pleasant Plains roads to the town; and $260,000 in fire-impact fees, to be paid in $20,000 increments each time a building is completed.

Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett said the town is excited to welcome Erickson back.

“The development meets a lot of criteria for us,” Blodgett said. “It’s not a commercial development. The residents will use the streets on off-peak times, and there will be no impact on schools. We feel like it’s a good project.”

Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at m.johnston@carolina.rr.com.

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