Village Green general manager Eileen Yurek says she constantly
receives inquiries about whether the senior living community
contains a skilled-nursing facility.
Village Green general manager Eileen Yurek says she constantly receives inquiries about whether the senior living community contains a skilled-nursing facility.
Many Village Green residents have family members that could use a skilled-nursing facility and some residents temporarily need one themselves, she said. Responding to that need, Village Green hopes to build a 120-bed skilled nursing facility along with an ambulatory surgery center at Hecker Pass Highway and Santa Teresa Boulevard within the next two years.
The nursing facility would house patients with both long-term medical conditions and shorter-term care for people who are recovering after surgery or injuries. The surgery center only would perform relatively minor operations for which patients could leave that same day.
Gilroy’s planning commission Feb. 4 recommended a zoning change and requested necessary architectural documents to allow the project to move forward, and the City Council planned to vote on the matter Monday.
Village Green residents initially opposed the project when first presented in 2008 because the access road would have crossed through the development and because project plans included a community center that would have been supported by homeowners association fees. However, developers decided to provide roadway access for the project at Santa Teresa Boulevard instead with a secondary exit at Hecker Pass Highway. Developers also swapped out the community center for a community garden.
While there was little support for the project while it was in its earlier stages, a few residents spoke in favor of it at this month’s planning commission meeting. Several people said Gilroy’s only skilled nursing facility, Gilroy Healthcare and Rehab Center, was built nearly 40 years ago.
Everyone who spoke at the meeting said the 54,925-square-foot facility and the 5,300-square-foot ambulatory surgery center would be an asset and would improve the southwest corner of Hecker Pass Highway and Santa Teresa Boulevard.
“As far as I know, the residents have been satisfied with the answers they’ve received and they’re comfortable with this project moving forward,” said Terri Aulman, president of the Cottages Homeowners Association in Village Green.
Village Green resident John Daley said he thought it would enhance the north end of the property and benefit the area.
“I’m in favor of it because I can’t see what else you would put up there,” he said. “You don’t want a strip mall. You don’t want a service station or anything like that, and this is something that the experts say we need.”
That’s not to say that everyone favored the project.
A couple of commissioners noted that Village Green developers previously had signed a document stating that they had no interest to develop the property.
Commission chair Jim Gailey and vice-chair Ben Anderson ultimately voted against recommending a zoning change.
The 3.8-acre parcel that will contain the property initially was zoned for estate residential. Several speakers as well as commissioner Joan Spencer said much has changed in the past 10 years, and the parcel would not be very appealing for estate housing today. Spencer called the lot “drab” and said trucks regularly park in front of it.
On the other hand, Gailey wanted more information on why the developer and council had agreed not to develop the parcel in the past.
“(The developer) made a mind-open, eyes-open agreement, and I would like … to get some deeper understanding about what’s changed today, so that I can make a good, honest recommendation to the council.”
He thought it would be useful to hear from Mayor Al Pinheiro, who served on the council at the time, and Councilman Craig Gartman, who had served on the planning commission.
Both Pinheiro and Gartman said this week that the past decision to leave 4.8 acres – including the land that would house the proposed project – as an estate lot was based on a compromise with the developer. The corner should have been part of the city specific plan for the Hecker Pass corridor, Pinheiro said, but Councilman Lupe Arellano and the developer worked out a deal.
“I was adamantly against it,” Pinheiro said. “I couldn’t see how anybody in their right mind would want to make that an estate lot.”
Pinheiro said Village Green’s current aims to develop the area serve as “a lesson that whenever a developer says ‘in perpetuity,’ that there is no such thing.”
Developers did a “lousy job” with Village Green, Pinheiro said, pointing to engineering problems with driveways and a community room that he deemed too small.
At the same time, he said he wants what is best for Gilroy, and he planned to make his decision based on Monday’s presentation.
Gartman also said he planned to keep an open mind.
“The world changes, things change,” Gartman said. “I want to see what it looks like, to see if it makes sense.”
The Village Green development currently houses 500 people, including residents who live in homes and apartments as well as in the assisted-living center.
The ambulatory surgery center would conduct outpatient operations and could be used by Village Green members and the public alike.
Miguel Vasquez, a representative of developer DMA Partners said at the planning commission meeting that the new project was a $12 million investment that likely would lead to more than 50 full-time jobs.
In addition to the new structures, the project would include easements and temporary construction accommodations to allow for a future trail along Hecker Pass Highway.
Although the City Council will decide on zoning changes, ultimately the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development will decide whether to issue a building permit.
Yurek expressed hope that the council would grant approval.
“The difference to me is giving care (versus) having an empty lot out there,” Yurek said.
– Where: 3.81 acres at Santa Teresa Boulevard and Hecker Pass Highway
– When: Plans are to open within the next two years
– What: 62 parking spaces; community garden; easement for future trail
– Skilled-nursing facility: 54,925 square feet; 120 beds; long-term care for people with debilitating conditions and shorter-term care for people who are recovering after surgery or injuries
– Ambulatory surgery center: 5,300 square feet; only out patient procedures