Pat Kittle talks about the plans for the rehab center. Photo by Trevor Keiser
BY TREVOR KEISER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Around $20 million of new development is coming to Independence Township, according to Township Supervisor Pat Kittle.
In the next couple weeks residents should start seeing the land behind Rite Aid at the corner of Sashabaw and Clarkston Road getting bulldozed for a new rehabilitation establishment called the Wellbridge of Clarkston. Kittle said the facility will be for those who have recently undergone surgeries for hips, knees or any kind of joint replacement.
“It’s where you basically learn to get your life back together, learn to walk for the rehab to get you your strength again. Even just for the short term of how to tie your shoe or go to the bathroom,” Kittle said. “You take things for granted until you can’t move your leg and somebody’s got to help you.”
According to Brian Oppmann, planning and zoning administrator and code enforcement officer for Independence Township, the new facility will be approximately 70,000 square-feet and cost of construction will be approximately $11 million. Kittle noted there is more planned to be built on that property, but nothing is “locked in.”
“What would be cool is if we could get some sort of a fresh market,” Kittle said. “These would be other sources of retail, sources of businesses; office spaces, maybe a bank or credit union and it would be nice to have some nice restaurant.”
“These are future phases,” Oppmann added. “This was all approved back in 2005 when the pharmacy was first approved.”
The architect is Dan Deremer of JW Design. Kittle noted Building Director Dave Belcher said JW Design was “top shelf and know what they are doing.”
“Dan Deremer is a top notch architect,” he added. “Besides that we just had the preconstruction (team) in and they got all of their ducks in row.”
Another facility in the works is Vista Springs, a senior living complex, which will include independent living, assisted living and memory care.
Oppmann said the planning commission approved the plans earlier in the year, but it’s contingent upon an ordinance amendment going before the township board to approve the height and then from there it will go back to the planning commission.
“What this ordinance will require is a special land use to get the additional height they are asking for so that’s why they have to go back,” Oppmann explained. “Essentially they were approved, but now they have to go back for the extra height.”
According to township ordinances, buildings are only allowed to have two stories. To go any higher would require special land use permits. Kittle said Vista Springs will have three stories. The original plans, he noted, were just for a retangular building, but when they asked for something with a little more design to it, Vista Springs delivered.
“It looked like a big square building and it didn’t have any character,” Kittle said. “They told us ‘you work with us on the height restrictions we could lay this other things down and they teed us up perfectly. It was just kind of Victorian style building with a lot of gabled roofs and different types of brick. It made your teeth fall out of your head. It was just breathtaking.”
“It’s just more traditional architecture and a lot prettier,” Oppman said.
Vista Springs will be located in the Trillum Village by Maybee and Dixie Highway. Kittle said they are condos which were never finished due to the hard times of the economy. The design will include an amended site plan, so condos can be finished down the road.
Vista Springs will be approximately 80,000 square-feet and cost approximately around $8 million in construction costs.
“The amenities inside are breathtaking with the restaurants and the dining area and group social area. A lot of where it’s going to be positioned is tucked back where the old club house is,” Kittle said. “There will be walking paths and areas where people can actually go sit out on the docks and enjoy the view and the vistas and everything else, which will actually improve appearance on the other side of the lake. It will an outstanding looking building.”
The biggest thing to Kittle between both the Vista Springs and the Webridge of Clarkston rehab center is it serves a need in the community.
“We just don’t have enough of elderly care and the rehabilitation. There are just so many people here now out looking for places,” he added. “There are parents who are coming back from Florida because they can’t live down there by themselves. They need help and having them close by we think will be a huge benefit to try and keep that family nucleus together. It’s still in a very comfortable setting, close you can visit on a regular basis, bring grandbabies down and that sort of thing.”
“The way the demographics are evolving in this community and every community,” he said. “It’s a trend that’s happening. It’s an aging population in general with the baby boomers.”
Between the two facilities, Kittle estimates around $10 million in taxable value to the township. In addition to these facilties he said they have around 500 homes ready to be built around the township as well.
“Some of it’s geared towards the elderly, some of it’s geared towards younger people, but it will do is bring in some fresh blood,” he said. “Even if some of the elderly want to get rid of the big houses and go into something smaller, we’re going to start to see some turn.”