Expansion Update: VB Planning Commission Staff Report Recommends Project Approval
The City of Virginia Beach Planning Commission staff completed a balanced review of the impact of the project on everyone. The professional staff recommended approving Westminster-Canterbury’s expansion and their report is posted here.
The report referred to the City’s Senior Housing Committee, which found there is a lack of available senior housing in the City. It cited that the Bayfront Advisory Commission had favorable comments and raised no major concerns.
Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay has been a part of the Shore Drive community for nearly four decades. Currently, we are privileged to serve the housing, hospitality and healthcare needs of more than 680 residents.
The demographics of our region indicate Virginia Beach is facing a looming crisis: an acute shortage in senior housing and services.
In a study published last year by Plante Morane, one of the nation’s largest CPA Business Advisory firms, Virginia Beach was listed as one of the top three metropolitan areas in the nation with the greatest unmet future need for senior housing. A second study by LeadingAge Virginia forecasts the “Silver Tsunami” in Virginia Beach will increase the senior population by nearly 50% in the next ten years.
These studies reflect our experience at Westminster-Canterbury. While our campus has grown over the past two decades, it still cannot keep up with the demand to serve residents of Virginia Beach and the greater Hampton Roads community. Currently, we have a waitlist of more than 500 families who have given us a deposit to secure a place in our community. Most are from Virginia Beach.
Our History in Meeting the Housing Needs of Seniors: Including Those with Moderate Income
We were founded by leading citizens of the area for the benefit of Hampton Roads and under the governance of two Christian churches. Members of these churches still control a majority of the Board of Trustees to ensure we remain faithful to our mission. We use all of our money to serve our residents and support charitable endeavors. This includes ensuring affordability and quality of services. There are no private owners (shareholders/owners) to take private profits out of our 501(c)(3) corporation.
As a faith-based organization, giving back is in our DNA. We price one-third of our apartments below the cost of lifetime services provided by Westminster-Canterbury. This makes our community as affordable as possible to people of varying economic means*. Through the Westminster-Canterbury Foundation, living in our community is made possible for another 10% of our residents. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided more than $14 million in financial support to residents. This is in addition to the subsidized prices for one-third of our apartment homes.
*Our non-profit Life Plan community offers one-bedroom and studio apartments in our East Tower for an average monthly fee of $3,401 per month. The median monthly income of people 65+ in Virginia Beach is $5,240 per month.
In order to help solve this housing shortfall, Westminster-Canterbury submitted an application to the City of Virginia Beach, modifying our existing use permit to add 217 new independent living apartment homes and build 75 assisted living residences and 48 memory residences. This project is budgeted at approximately $400 million dollars and is the largest private capital investment in the City’s history, with no public taxpayer financial contribution.
We assembled a team of extraordinary professionals to carry out our vision for the project. Our architects are recognized as one of the leading senior housing firms in the country. One of their projects in Dallas was just named one of the ten best senior housing communities in the United States. They understand how important it is to create a community that will be both elegant and compliant with all local, state and federal requirements for senior housing.
The glass and white cladding on the new Independent Living building was chosen because these materials offer the best protection against wind-driven rain. Other highrise buildings on Shore Drive are also white. Brick is porous to water and many buildings near the Bay can develop water intrusion problems, particularly in high wind storms. Some building codes do not allow glass with a reflective coefficient of 20% or more out of concern for solar reflection. Our architects have gone further and designed our new expansion with glass that has a reflective coefficient between 9% and 13% (lower is better), so solar reflection will not be an issue for our neighbors.
Environment and Sustainability
In addition, we are challenging ourselves to design, build, and operate our expanded community with sustainability in mind. It is vitally important to us to be good stewards of the environment while improving everyone’s quality of life.
With the construction of a four-story parking garage, Westminster-Canterbury will significantly reduce the amount of surface parking currently on all of the parcels of land scheduled for redevelopment. In addition, we will decrease the amount of impervious area on the redeveloped parcels. We will also introduce new stormwater management systems for these three parcels, resulting in better water quality and water quantity controls. We are excited to build rain gardens, infiltration areas, pervious parking areas, where possible, as well as install solar panels in strategic locations on the buildings.
- Traffic - We have studied how the project will affect traffic conditions. To that end, we commissioned an independent study, which concluded traffic volume will be less during all hours of the day, including peak morning and afternoon hours, compared to keeping the restaurant and building an alternative mixed-age, low-rise condominium development like the rest of Ocean Shore Ave. We also conducted our own study based on actual traffic counts in and out of Westminster-Canterbury at peak hours. Those figures were even lower than the traffic study projected.
Click here to view our Traffic Study.
- Parking - With regards to parking, the expansion will include a parking garage that will house 385 resident and staff vehicles, effectively removing them from sight and also reducing on-street parking congestion. When the expansion is completed, we will provide approximately 1,086 parking spaces, 314 more than required by the City zoning ordinance.
- Beach Access - The beach along the Bay is public and will always be a public beach! We will enhance public access. Our plans include a wide and landscaped beach access walkway that is handicapped accessible from Ocean Shore Avenue to the beach. Based on input from our local Civic League, we are producing specific photos to see how the tides might impact the beach access on both sides of the pier. The pier has been in place for many years and access to both sides of the beach has been maintained and will continue to be maintained. To ensure this access, we will monitor low- and high-tides under the pier as we proceed with the project.
- Solar Study – The spring and summer beach months are always of interest to residents and visitors, alike, so we have studied how our expansion may affect the beach. The existing buildings along the Bay and those of our planned expansion face north to south, unlike the buildings on the Oceanfront, which face east to west. With this north to south building orientation, the result is almost no impact on the beach during the critical summer months, with some residual impact during the “shoulder” months -- not unlike the surrounding existing condominium projects to our east and west.
Click here to view Solar Study Photos
Once we reaffirmed the need to expand our campus, we made it a priority to perform extensive research on potential issues before and during the plan development. That, along with our community outreach, helped us to address questions raised by our neighbors and the City.
We met with the Bayfront Advisory Commission as well as members of the Shore Drive Coalition of Civic Leagues on November 21, 2019, to discuss the details of the request.
A second meeting with the Shore Drive Coalition of Civic Leagues was held on February 24, 2020.
We also met with residents of the Starfish Shores Condominiums and Bayview Villa Condominiums on November 19, 2019, residents of Ocean Shore Condominiums on December 17, 2019, and the Lynnhaven Colony Civic League on February 8, 2020.
We added a Community Development page to our web site to fully address all of the issues and concerns that were raised from these meetings.
While Westminster-Canterbury is a non-profit organization, we do pay city real estate taxes to Virginia Beach. Last year, we paid over $1.1 million in taxes to the City. The two additional buildings will more than double the real estate tax revenue we generate for the City over and above what is currently generated by our organization. Moreover, we add revenue without a burden to the schools and city services that other forms of development create.
We are proud that last year our residents and staff contributed more than 32,000 hours of volunteer service to charitable initiatives on and off our campus, with local schools, and non-profit groups in Hampton Roads.
We are partnering with our general contractor to develop a plan that mitigates any intrusions during our construction including -- confining their operations within a secure perimeter, respecting working hours and shifting trade parking to an off-site location. There is more to come on this subject.
Not to be overlooked, we know we can enforce good policies for our staff and vendors to follow. It is part of being a good and responsive neighbor.
- Westminster-Canterbury Tobacco-Free Policy - Like Sentara and other healthcare organizations, we have chosen for health and wellness reasons to be a tobacco-free campus. We are changing our policies further to ensure any breaks related to smoking are unpaid so that such breaks have less impact on our neighbors.
- Vendor Etiquette - We use our security team to enforce delivery rule times with our vendor partners -- nothing before 7:30 a.m. We also require that their trucks do not idle on side streets.
Looking Ahead - In an effort to keep our neighbors, friends and other interested parties informed, this page will be continually updated with fresh information about our expansion project as plans develop.
If you have additional questions, please contact us at [email protected]