Tag Archives: Rick Redniss

[UPDATE] New Life For Old Nursing Home?

This story has been updated to include an artists’ rendering of the proposed renovation of the Post Road West building.

It’s a jarring sight.

On one side of Post Road West, heading toward town, sits the classic-looking Kings Highway Elementary School.

A few yards away — on the other side of Burr Road — looms an industrial-type building, showing its age.

The current name is nondescript: Westport Rehabilitation Complex. So was the previous one: Westport Health Care Center. Many Westporters still call it “Mediplex.”

Connecticut Rehabilitation Complex. In the background: Kings Highway Elementary School.

It looks like a stereotypical “nursing” or “old age home.” Sure, those are outdated terms.

But so is the structure.

Next Monday (June 27, 7 p.m., Zoom), the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing on a text amendment that would substantially change the look of the building.

And adapt its use to more modern “senior care.”

Connectictu Rehabilitation Center’s current Burr Street entrance …

Rick Redniss — principal at Redniss & Mead, a surveying, civil engineering and planning firm, who has been involved in Westport projects like the renovation of Richmondville Mill and the conversion of 136 Riverside Avenue to housing for adults with special needs — hopes to expand the current standards for nursing homes to include a new medical facility specializing in Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory impairment care.

The new proposal would gut renovate the interior, and redo the façade and roof, but essentially maintain the current footprint. Additional square footage would be added to the top 2 floors, to accommodate the new use.

The existing 120 beds would be reduced by almost half, to 68 units. Redniss notes that memory care — a growing segment of eldercare — requires a less intense use of staff than a skilled nursing home, too.

The property would be modernized and enhanced, with better landscaping and protections for nearby residents. Redniss says the height and feel of the renovation will complement the elementary school directly across the street.

… and the proposed renovation. The look and feel of the building mimic Kings Highway School, across Burr Street.

This is not the first time a new use has been proposed for the old site.

During the past few years, the landlord has submitted applications or pre-application requests to either change the use to a luxury hotel, or demolish the existing structure and construct a new assisted living facility.

Both proposals faced obstacles, and were withdrawn.

The timing now is important. Westport Rehabilitation has an option to extend their lease, and continue to operate as they have been. An agreement in place would allow this new project to proceed.

Redniss says that feedback from town departments and engineers — as well as a pre-application meeting with P&Z — has been included in this current plan.

(The June 27 public hearing will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. at westportct.gov,  Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Comments may be sent prior to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov. Interested parties may offer live testimony via Zoom.)

(“06880” reporting relies on reader support. Please click here to contribute.)

New Life For Old Nursing Home?

It’s a jarring sight.

On one side of Post Road West, heading toward town, sits the classic-looking Kings Highway Elementary School.

A few yards away — on the other side of Burr Road — looms an industrial-type building, showing its age.

The current name is nondescript: Westport Rehabilitation Complex. So was the previous one: Westport Health Care Center. Many Westporters still call it “Mediplex.”

Connecticut Rehabilitation Complex. In the background: Kings Highway Elementary School.

It looks like a stereotypical “nursing” or “old age home.” Sure, those are outdated terms.

But so is the structure.

Next Monday (June 27, 7 p.m., Zoom), the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing on a text amendment that would substantially change the look of the building.

And adapt its use to more modern “senior care.”

Rick Redniss — principal at Redniss & Mead, a surveying, civil engineering and planning firm, who has been involved in Westport projects like the renovation of Richmondville Mill and the conversion of 136 Riverside Avenue to housing for adults with special needs — hopes to expand the current standards for nursing homes to include a new medical facility specializing in Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory impairment care.

The new proposal would gut renovate the interior, and redo the façade and roof, but essentially maintain the current footprint. Additional square footage would be added to the top 2 floors, to accommodate the new use.

The existing 120 beds would be reduced by almost half, to 68 units. Redniss notes that memory care — a growing segment of eldercare — requires a less intense use of staff than a skilled nursing home, too.

The property would be modernized and enhanced, with better landscaping and protections for nearby residents.

This is not the first time a new use has been proposed for the old site.

During the past few years, the landlord has submitted applications or pre-application requests to either change the use to a luxury hotel, or demolish the existing structure and construct a new assisted living facility.

Both proposals faced obstacles, and were withdrawn.

Connecticut Rehabilitation Complex;s Burr Street entrance. 

The timing now is important. Westport Rehabilitation has an option to extend their lease, and continue to operate as they have been. An agreement in place would allow this new project to proceed.

Redniss says that feedback from town departments and engineers — as well as a pre-application meeting with P&Z — has been included in this current plan.

And, he adds, the height and feel of the renovation will complement the elementary school directly across the street.

(The June 27 public hearing will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. at westportct.gov,  Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Comments may be sent prior to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov. Interested parties may offer live testimony via Zoom.)

(“06880” reporting relies on reader support. Please click here to contribute.)

Special Needs Housing Planned For Riverside Avenue

One of the Westport’s greatest needs — supportive housing for people with special needs — is moving through the regulatory pipeline.

136 Riverside Avenue is a 12-room 1880 Colonial Victorian just north of Saugatuck Elementary School. Owned by the town, it’s used now by the Board of Education.

A few years ago it was considered for special needs housing. That opportunity has come around again.

Rick Redniss — principal at Redniss & Mead, a surveying, civil engineering and planning firm — has been exploring possibilities for “off-site affordable housing” for developments like 41 Richmondville Avenue and The Residence at Westport for several years.

That’s the process by which approval is granted for new market-rate housing at one location. In exchange, builders create affordable housing units elsewhere in town.

136 Riverside Avenue.

Redniss has met with parents of special needs individuals and Westport’s Commission on People with Disabilities to determine the best design. Based in part on a Darien model, he realized that if individual units include a private bath, kitchenette (to help with independent living) and deed-restricted lease, they count toward the town’s moratorium points (granted for showing that a municipality is actively building affordable housing).

The current plan would convert 136 Riverside to 5 apartments. Four would be for people with special needs; one would be rented to a staff member, who also would qualify under regulations for affordable housing.

Abilis — the 70-year-old nonprofit serving over 800 people with special needs — sees this as an excellent opportunity. They’ve been collaborating with the 41 Richmondville Avenue developers to make this a reality. Redniss has met with neighbors, and continues to address concerns.

The proposal — which includes remodeling that respects the original architecture, and enhanced landscaping — is going through the 8-24 (municipal improvement) and special permitting process. It’s on the agenda for the Architectural Review Board’s March 23 meeting.

If approved, 136 Riverside heads to the Planning & Zoning Commission, Board of Finance and RTM, for lease oversight.