Developer plans to turn nursing home into apartments

By Jeffrey Pieters

Unused for a year, a former assisted living facility on East Center Street in Rochester may be redeveloped as a 34-unit apartment complex.

The City Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plan Wednesday by unanimous vote.

The plan is to redevelop the former Townhall Estates building at 607 E. Center Street.


The developer, Jeff Allman of Rochester, in fact had two proposals Wednesday -- the one commissioners approved, and a second, larger plan that would have built a 39-unit addition on the north side of the already-existing building, making a total of 73 apartments.

Neighbors objected to the larger proposal, saying it would intensify area traffic and parking concerns beyond tolerance.

"It might as well be a 10-story building," said Kevin Fleming, 511 East Center St. Fleming said he was speaking for the East Side Pioneers Neighborhood Association.

"We do not support this (larger) project," he said. "The only thing we could really support at all is maintaining the existing building."

Neighbors earlier had worked to rezone the property R-2, or low-density residential, to avoid projects such as the larger of the two Allman proposals, Fleming said.

Allman, meanwhile, said adding the second building "makes a lot of sense." The redevelopment is economically difficult, he said, because it must result in apartments that will rent at "affordable" monthly rates -- $482; for a one-bedroom and $632 for a two-bedroom. Converting the 75-bed senior center to apartments will cost an estimated $3 million, Allman said.

"If this project is not allowed to succeed, I'm not sure what happens to this neighborhood," he said.

Allman said he met with several neighbors Tuesday, and thought he had won their support for the larger project.


"They came in with a bias against it (and) turned around," he said.

But Fleming, who was not at the Tuesday meeting but said he learned about it by telephone shortly afterward, said neighbors were "horrified at the prospect there would be a huge building out back."

Commissioners adopted the smaller plan as an apparent compromise measure.

"Adapting the current building, I think, is a good use," said Chairman Randy Staver.

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