A plan to nearly double the size of an assisted-care living facility on Warwick Road has some neighbors there seeing red.
Brandywine Senior Living at Haddonfield, formerly known as the Haddonfield Home, wants to expand the size of its two-story facility at 132 Warwick Rd. from 16,900 square feet to 33,800 square feet, from 52 units to 64. Officials there said the expansion is needed to upgrade the facility, which will be razed and rebuilt, except for a historic home that acts as the front facade.
The group submitted an expansion plan to the borough's Historic Preservation Commission on Friday and hopes to have a hearing on the proposal at the next HPC meeting on May 23. The HPC must rule on a certificate of appropriateness before the plan can be presented to the borough planning board.
Some neighbors and community groups, such as Preservation Haddonfield, have come out against the project.
"Who could conceive of anything like that passing the boards here in Haddonfield," Thomas Morrissey, a borough resident wrote recently on Haddonfield Talks, the local Internet chat room after Preservation Haddonfield issued a 'Neighborhood Alert.' "That would create a dangerous precedent that could 'pop up' next to anyone. What can we do to see this project to its rightful demise?"
Brandywine President and CEO Brenda Bacon said she understands neighbors' concerns and has modified renovation plans after three community meetings and two informal presentations to the HPC. One of the modifications is underground parking instead of additional parking in the front of the facility.
"We're trying to make each design better and more responsive to the neighbors," she said. "We never expect the neighbors to jump up and down and say this was a wonderful thing, but the home has existed here since 1953. We're now happy to be a taxpaying part of the community."
Brandywine Senior Living bought the facility, formerly known as Haddonfield Home, last November for $2.7 million. Haddonfield Home was run by a nonprofit entity but Brandywine is a for-profit company with other facilities in New Jersey, including Moorestown, and five other states. Bacon said Brandywine is prepared to spend up to $16 million to renovate the Haddonfield facility. She said that will mean a substantial increase in local taxes paid.
Brandywine wants to increase to 64 units from its current 52. Bacon said the new units will add showers in each room. The existing room bathrooms have no showers. Recreation and entertainment rooms are currently in the basement of the facility, which has no windows, she said. The new plans call for upgrade, including a patio.
Bacon said Brandywine is also trying to counter claims by Preservation Haddonfield, a historic preservation advocacy group, that the expansion will be "the size of an average Walmart." The group said 42,000 square feet is the size of an average Walmart on literature it has distributed to fight the expansion. But that information is incorrect.
The average size of a Walmart is 108,000 square feet, according to the superstore chain's website.
Bacon said Brandywine is rolling out its expansion plans in "real time." The information is so fluid that she reported the size of the existing facility is actually 16,900 square feet, not 19,760 square feet as they had cited in meetings with the community and the HPC. Bacon said they were relying on an independent site-condition report prepared prior to their acquisition of the property. It was not correct, she said.
Bacon said the impervious coverage of the 2.5-acre site after the addition will be about 30 percent of the entire lot's 29,400 square feet. The current building takes up about 28 percent of the lot, she said. Bacon said plans call for keeping all but a handful of the 182 trees on the lot and a fire lane will only extend halfway around the building.
She said Brandywine is trying to address neighbor concerns while trying to improve the quality of life in Haddonfield's only assisted-care, senior living facility.
"This is not the most efficient plan for us," she said. "It's going to cost more money, but we're trying to respond to some of the concerns."