Arbor Acres Retirement Community Inc. has broken ground on a $55 million project that will add 56 independent-living apartments to the campus.
“We are calling it a return to the heart,” said Andrew Applegate, Arbor Acres’ president and chief executive.
The plan is for the units to be available for occupants by January 2023.
The start of work on the two-building Aldersgate Square initiative ends months of negotiations over traffic concerns between Arbor Acres, Winston-Salem officials and neighbors, who were concerned about additional traffic to the expansion site using Arbor and Kent roads as a shortcut to speed through their historic neighborhood.
When Arbor Acres’ rezoning plans were brought to the council in September, the expansion was opposed by some residents on Reynolda Park.
“Residents have trouble exiting and entering their properties,” Reynolda Park resident John Wigodsky said at the time. “We are unsafe walking our neighborhood streets.”
Neighbors also expressed concerns that a planned four-story building could spoil the scenic view of the area.
The council voted to postpone voting on the request for 30 days to provide time for discussions.
At the Oct. 5 council meeting, Wigodsky said the discussions between neighbors, Arbor Acres staff, city transportation staff and Winston-Salem City Council Member Jeff McIntosh produced short- and long-term improvements for the traffic concerns. Arbor Acres is in McIntosh’s Northwest Ward.
There was an agreement to channel some of the potential new traffic, particularly from Arbor Acres staff and vendors, to Pilgrim Court as opposed to Arbor Road. Speed bumps will be placed on Arbor and Kent roads.
Those commitments were enough to lead the neighborhood group to withdraw opposition.
“Let me be clear: No one wants speed cushions in the neighborhood, but they are a far better alternative to risking one’s life while walking in the neighborhood and exiting one’s driveway,” Wigodsky said.
The expansion is the first major residential construction Arbor Acres has undertaken in nearly 10 years.
It is also the first element in a multi-phased plan for Arbor Acres’ 85-acre campus.
The expansion includes a three-story West building with eight units on each floor for a total of 24, and a four-story East building, also with eight units per floor for a total of 32. There is a common courtyard between the buildings.
Arbor Acres said Friday that 35 of the planned apartments already have been reserved.
“We have a long, wonderful and rich history in Winston-Salem,” Applegate said.
“At 40 years old, we are embarking on a 10- to 15-year campus master plan that will modernize and address some aging campus infrastructure, including some of the original buildings, as well as aging electrical and plumbing systems.”
The idea behind going up, rather than out, is that the buildings would take up less space and allow Arbor Acres to maintain its 500-foot perimeter around its campus, Steve Causey, of Allied Design Inc., told the council in November.
The architectural firm of SFCS in Roanoke, Va., and Arbor Acres also helped to resolve the height concerns by putting the buildings on the lowest parts on the 25-acre site.
Once the new units debut, there will be 388 units on the Arbor Acres campus that is zoned for up to 652.
Arbor Acres’ $65 million tax-exempt bond application for the expansion was approved recently by the N.C. Medical Care Commission.
Frank L. Blum Construction will oversee the project, while Truist Financial Corp. is providing financing.
Arbor Acres projects that $22 million will be retired with the first-generation entrance fees, while $33 million will become part of the long-term Arbor Acres capital structure.