$40 million expansion planned at Otterbein

Senior community to become part of larger Warren County village.

Otterbein Lifestyle Communities is gearing up for more than $40 million in expansion of its original senior living complex even as it seeks approval of a long-range plan for its entire 1,430-acre property south of Lebanon.

The long-range plan maps out a multigenerational community on land on both sides of Ohio 741, north of Ohio 63, in Warren County. The short-term expansion is designed to respond to demand and upgrade existing facilities for senior citizens on the existing 135-acre campus, mostly on the west side of Ohio 741.

“It’s really important that we plan them together,” Gary Horning, vice president of marketing and communications for Otterbein, said last week.

Last month, Otterbein submitted to Warren County officials a plan to build – over the next 40 years — a college campus, sports and arts complexes, hospital facilities, industrial and retail centers, as well as 4,500 homes or apartment units, on both sides of Ohio 741 in Turtlecreek Twp.

By the end of this year, though, Otterbein officials also plan to begin construction of 82 homes and apartments valued at more than $20 million on the east side of Ohio 741, where the not-for-profit’s original retirement community opened 100 years ago.

“We see tremendous leverage between that and what we do in our retirement community,” Horning said.

The first phase of the senior project is expected to result in Otterbein hiring about 20 more workers to handle marketing, housekeeping, maintenance and other tasks associated with enlarging the complex, already featuring 431 independent living units, according to Otterbein.

Construction of the senior project now hinges on approval of the overall long-range plan by planning and zoning officials in Warren County.

On Thursday, the master plan is to be presented to the Warren County Regional Planning Commission. This begins a three-month to six-month process expected to end in approval by Warren County commissioners.

Otterbein then can submit final plans for the first phase of the senior project, 54 apartments and 28 homes on Circle Drive, on the south end of the existing senior campus, near the intersection of Ohio 63 and Ohio 741.

“We’re going to get them through this rezoning. Then we will expedite the process of getting that going.” said Mike Yetter, zoning supervisor in Warren County.

Retirement community expansion

For 112 years, Otterbein has provided living arrangements and care for seniors on the original campus.

Otterbein now also offers senior living options in other parts of Warren County, Ohio and the U.S. The corporation employs 1,600 workers, 900 in Ohio and 56 on the original campus.

A new life enrichment center, featuring apartments and an exercise center, opened in December 2012 on the main campus.

The next expansion is designed to update housing and other parts of the campus, as well as add capacity.

“We’ve been running at about 96 percent of capacity. In our business, that’s sold out,” Horning said.

Later this month, Otterbein officials plan to present plans for the first phase of senior expansion to the not-for-profit’s board, with the intention of opening the new residences in September 2015.

Next, Otterbein officials plan another $20 million in expansion and renovation, adding more apartments. Assisted and skilled living rooms will also be added and renovated, Horning said.

In 2017, plans call for expansion of rehabilitative and transitional care facilities and additional private rooms, to be opened by the end of 2018. Ultimately the retirement campus would become part of the Union Village multigenerational community.

“We like most of the things Otterbein does,” Turtlecreek Twp. Trustee Dan Jones, a long-time resident, said after the overall plan was unveiled.

Union Village

In the past, township residents have expressed concern about large residential developments in the community. Turtlecreek Twp. is still largely rural but also home to two prisons and the Miami Valley Gaming racino, as well as a growing number of subdivisions.

So far, Yetter said there had been little local reaction to Otterbein’s new long-range plan, designed according to new urbanist standards to foster the feeling of a traditional community in the midst of high-density development.

“This is all walkable, bikeable. It has a lot of connectivity throughout the whole thing,” Yetter said. “It’s just a multifaceted development that has just about everything in it.”

Otterbein officials want the Union Village development to begin across from the existing senior campus and south of corporate offices and the Warren County Senior Center, already on the east side of Ohio 741. But this could change if a developer came forward ready to begin another facet of the project.

“We anticipate bringing on a phase each year from the date of commencement as the market warrants,” according to a narrative submitted with the long-range plan.

Work on Union Village’s first phase is to begin next April and be phased in through 40 to 50 “sub-phases” over 30 to 40 years, according to the plan.

Ultimately, the senior campus would also be redesigned to fit into the larger village.

“The intent is that improvements make the campus more architecturally coherent both internally as well as within its surroundings,” according to the plan.

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