Summit Senior Living breaks ground on $21M project

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair

A backhoe and bulldozers make their way over muddy ground as they begin the work of constructing a 92-unit independent-living facility for people aged 55 and above on Route 155 at Mill Hill Court.

GUILDERLAND — As a cold rain fell on Nov. 1 and a backhoe and bulldozers moved over muddy earth, Summit Senior Living held a groundbreaking ceremony that marked the official start of construction of the company’s new facility in Guilderland, at Route 155 and Mill Hill Court.

This 120,000-square-foot, 92-unit independent-living apartment complex on six acres is the last phase of construction of the Mill Hill Planned Unit Development, a retirement community initially approved 25 years ago.

In February, the town’s Industrial Development Agency approved an application from Summit at Mill Hill, LLC for exemption from approximately $650,000 in sales and mortgage-recording taxes.  

Cost of the project is estimated at $21.2 million.

The project is expected, according to the IDA approving resolution, to create four full-time-equivalent new jobs and “additional new jobs in the Capital District,” as well as “significant construction jobs.”

The PUD also includes Atria, an assisted-living facility; 74 condominiums; and a Stewart’s Shop and gas station.

The town board earlier approved a proposal to change from the 160-bed nursing home that had been approved for the site. Attorney Mary Elizabeth Slevin of Stockli Slevin & Peters in Guilderland told the town board in September 2017 that this facility would be consistent with the vision for the PUD and “would provide a very useful and very important alternative for seniors, not currently available in the town of Guilderland.”

One apartment complex on Route 155 near the town hall, Mill Hollow, was originally planned as condominiums for older residents, but the age minimum was eventually dropped and the project turned from condos to apartments.

Seventy-two independent-living apartments for people aged 55 and older are planned for the Riitano Independent Living Apartments at 6232 Johnston Road, and another 96 units will be part of the Pine Bush Senior Living project on Route 155 near Western Avenue.

Summit Senior Living President Frank Nigro told The Enterprise that he expects construction to take a year at most and to be completed by about the end of October 2019.

The facility in Guilderland is Summit Senior Living’s first in Albany County. The company has three existing facilities, in Saratoga, North Greenbush, and Glenville. Ground will be broken shortly on another new facility, on Forts Ferry Road in Colonie, Nigro said.

Nigro said that most residents in the company’s existing facilities are in their mid-70s or above. “We don’t get 55-year-olds,” Nigro said, although 55 is the minimum age for Summit Senior Living residents. He estimated that single women make up about 70 percent of residents, adding that that may change as more baby boomers age.

What happens sometimes, Nigro said, is that someone will lose a spouse and then “feel a little isolated and consider moving in because of all the wonderful social opportunities.”

Gesturing to the nearby condominiums that are part of the Planned Unit Development, Nigro said that 55-year-olds are living there. He called that development “a really pretty product of the Michaels Group.”

Another approximately 20 percent of residents in Summit’s existing facilities are couples, he said. Nigro noted that, at some point, if one member of a couple living in the apartment building should need to go into assisted living, “How nice would it be to have this right here, on the same campus,” gesturing toward Atria.

Nigro said there is a need for senior-living apartments. “I wouldn’t be building this if there wasn’t a need,” he said. He estimated the occupancy rate in Summit Senior Living’s existing facilities to be “pretty close to 95 percent across the board.”

According to a market analysis of the project prepared in February by GAR Associates, rent levels at the Guilderland development will be higher than in conventional apartment complexes in the town, but consistent with other Summit Senior Living developments throughout the area. “Success of these units and the operating structure supports the contention that occupants are willing to, can/will pay higher thresholds for a product of this nature,” the report said.


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