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Questions linger after Millcroft Senior Living abandons plans for second building

Millcroft Senior Living has abandoned plans to build a memory care unit next to its existing facility, leaving neighbors and city officials concerned about the fate of the property.

“It appears they have changed their minds. They were in the middle of development and have decided to stop,” Councilman Stu Markham, who represents the surrounding neighborhoods, said at a recent council meeting. “I know residents who live nearby are concerned about the property since its been bulldozed and it’s just plain dirt at the moment.”

In January 2016, city council OK’d Millcroft’s proposal to build a 35,828-square-foot, 48-bed memory care unit for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia on 3.3 acres of land located on the west side of Possum Park Road, immediately south of Cullen Way and just north of the existing Millcroft facility.

Robert Eckenrode, regional director at parent company Five Star Quality Care, said at the time that Millcroft had 62 residents in independent living units, 26 in assisted living units and 110 in healthcare units.

“None of which features care for Alzheimer’s residents, and this addition on the adjoining property provides that care of 48 units of truly Alzheimer’s care to the residents of the city of Newark,” he said.

City Manager Tom Coleman said the city found out last month that the project is not moving forward.

“They had cleared the site, dug some pretty large holes, removed a lot of trees,” Coleman said. “They owe us a lot of trees from that project.”

He said the city is working with the contractor to formulate a plan to restore the site.

“We do have a large letter of credit from them that we can use to do anything should they default on their obligations, but at this point we don’t have any reason to think that will happen,” Coleman said.

The contractor spent this week restoring the curb and sidewalk along Cullen Way, and the city is awaiting plans for the site restoration. The city plans to hold a public information session for residents in the coming weeks, but the date has not yet been announced.

“Staff realizes this project is in direct line of sight for several residents and we are committed to ensuring the site is brought to a condition that meets city and state requirements and addresses residents’ concerns of an unsightly construction site adjacent to their neighborhood. Please note that the site is private property and as such, the final site conditions will generally be the owner’s prerogative as long as all regulations and city standards are met,” the public works department wrote in a letter to residents of the Hunt at Louviers.

The cancelation of the project comes as Millcroft is facing more local competition. Council recently approved a 115-unit assisted living and memory care facility for Barksdale Road, and another developer recently announced preliminary plans for a 144-unit senior living complex next to the Shoppes at Louviers, located just a mile from Millcroft.

Millcroft officials have remained tight-lipped about why they abandoned the project and what, if any, plans they have for the property.

Executive Director John Hupp said in a brief written statement that Millcroft determined it wasn’t the right time to pursue the project and added the company is “committed to restoring and improving the appearance of this property.”

He denied an interview request and did not answer questions emailed to him by the Newark Post. Officials at Five Star did not respond to requests for comment.

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