The Royal Palm Beach Village Council gave its final approvals for development of Hunt Midwest’s planned senior housing project, to be called the Capstone at Royal Palm, on Thursday, Dec. 7.
The Capstone will be a 114-bed facility at 10651 Okeechobee Blvd. dedicated to assisted living and memory care. The facility will house up to 125 residents, as 10 percent of the assisted-living portion will allow for residents to share beds with spouses. The assisted living portion (70 beds) will be two stories, while the memory care part (44 beds) will be all on one story.
The senior living facility will offer outdoor recreation, including a dog park and an outdoor kitchen with a barbecue grill. The exterior of the facility is completely walkable with exterior lighting at night.
Indoor recreation will be available, plus multiple dining rooms, along with activity and living areas. The facility is designed to promote social interaction between all residents. The living corridors make up the perimeter, while all the dining and activity areas are central to the building when walking through the main entrance. Residents can expect three meals a day, plus snacks.
“Our room sizes are a minimum 400 square feet to 800 square feet for our assisted living; and then our memory care, our smallest unit is 350 for a studio and up to 450 square feet total size,” Hunt Midwest agent Donaldson Hearing said. “The intent is to get people out of their rooms, so that they take advantage of the wonderful interior environment, the open space, the recreation within the facility, the dining areas and the wonderful common areas that are provided.”
Village staff recommended approval of the site plan and requests for architectural approval and a special exception use for the property. Staff added a recommendation for a fee in lieu of land dedication to satisfy the off-site recreation requirements of village code in the amount of approximately $16,000 to be paid prior to the developers’ being issued a building permit.
“As you know, the site was recently modified from the land use and the zoning to be consistent with the [residential mixed use] designation of the adjacent PortoSol community,” Hearing said. “And at that time, we made some modifications to the code, the RMU code as well as the senior housing code, to allow for senior living facilities as a special exception within the RMU designation.”
Councilwoman Selena Smith asked about entering the facility for both residents and staff. The main entrance is on the west side of the property off of Okeechobee, while the main staff entrance is to the east.
“At the front, there will be somebody in the foyer, a receptionist to welcome anybody into the facility,” Hearing said. “Generally, unless there is a security issue, they’re not locked or shut. In the back, that would be more of a key fob, for when employees come in and come out, but that wouldn’t be open all the time, so that’s where employees are expected to come in.”
Smith also asked for a clearer picture regarding security measures for residents.
“Residents are typically unaware of them for the most part. We want this to feel very residential, like hospitality,” David Simon of Integral Senior Living said. “This place is not designed to keep people in; it’s their home, and so it’s designed intentionally that way. But, we take the residents’ security as our primary mission. So, during the day, the front door will not be locked, but we’ll have staff. And all of our doors, with the exception of those five resident rooms, have cameras and locks, so we know who comes in and who goes out. Staff all have fobs, and so the residents will use a hotel style of door lock, so that we know who goes into each room.”
Simon said family members would be able to have key fobs for their family members’ rooms to visit them. He also said the doorbell for each resident’s room has a camera on it that is viewable by staff members on electronic devices if they are offsite, allowing for further surveillance of the facility and its residents.
“We do not use security companies. We have a 24/7/365 staff community, and there is no need for private security,” Simon said.
Councilman Jeff Hmara asked about the need for a deceleration lane for turning into the main entrance off of Okeechobee Blvd. That issue was also brought up when the project went before the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Robert Rennebaum of the engineering firm Simmons & White said they looked at that aspect closely with Palm Beach County.
“I met with staff with the conceptual plan that you saw earlier with the modified signing to convert existing merge pavement to a dedicated deceleration lane for our staff entrance,” Rennebaum said. “And, no, they didn’t request a continuation of that to Wildcat Way. We did a conceptual approval with the concept shown here tonight without the continuation of the deceleration, and we still have to go back to Palm Beach County for permits, and I don’t anticipate that they will make us do that.”
One of the main reasons for the lack of a required deceleration lane is because it is considered a low trip rate to the facility, Rennebaum said.
Mayor Fred Pinto asked Rennebaum if he personally had any concern about the concept.
“Pastor [Dale] Faircloth’s church on Sundays has far more traffic, but there is very little on the road because it’s a Sunday,” Rennebaum said, regarding the adjacent Connect Church. “During the weekdays, we have very little traffic when the road is being utilized, so, no, I don’t have a concern.”
Hmara made a motion to approve the site plan, along with the requests for architectural approval and special exception use for the property, with the condition regarding the park fee. It was seconded by Councilwoman Jan Rodusky and unanimously approved.
Pinto brought up the matter regarding the definition of civic use in the community, as there had been concerns brought forward by a PortoSol resident at the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.
“I was told there were residents of PortoSol who were under the impression that this property would never be developed, and whoever told them that didn’t have the right information,” Pinto said. “It is being used for a civic and public purpose for the benefit of citizens in the community.”
The council also unanimously approved the preliminary plat and final plat for the Capstone at Royal Palm. And the council further adopted a resolution approving the sale of the 11.93 acres of village-owned property to Hunt Midwest for its development of the land, with a portion being given to Connect Church for the development of parking and drainage facilities for a future church expansion.
Hunt Midwest has 18 months to receive its building permits and is set to have the doors open by the end of 2019, at the latest.