Ahwatukee began as a retirement community and now, more than 30 years later, the first large-scale retirement facility is finally making its way through the planning process.

Spectrum Retirement Communities is proposing the construction of a three-story, 140-unit retirement facility at Knox Road and 44th Street.

“There are not many facilities (like this) in the village, and this is needed,” said land use attorney Paul Gilbert, who represents Spectrum. Gilbert spoke Monday night during a briefing of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee.

The committee generally agreed.

“I’m 100 percent for it,” said Chris Gentis.

“I think it’s well overdue out here,” Rob Robinson said.

One concern, expressed by a neighbor, is that the three-story facility will stand out in the area.

“I think if it were a two-story it would be much more palatable,” said Barbara Rankin, who lives nearby.

Gilbert pointed out that south of the proposed facility is a three-story apartment complex on 44th Street and that the plans call for part of the facility to be two-stories high and others three stories to help blend the design into the area.

Spectrum has described the facility as a cruise ship on land with apartments that seniors would rent, a bistro, bowling alley, library, media room, auditorium, full dining facility and therapy room.

The roughly 130,000-square-foot development would include 72 independent living units, 52 assisted living units plus 16 memory care units.

The facility would also come with 100 parking spaces for staff, clients and visitors, which Jessica Herbert, a senior at Mountain Pointe High School and a member of the Village Planning Committee, said was important.

“They have very strict parking around the school,” Herbert said.

Currently the land is zoned for an apartment complex that could go three-stories high and contain more than 350 units. Gilbert pointed out that the senior facility will produce a fraction of the traffic an apartment complex would create.

The plan is almost identical to one proposed almost two years ago, but without a small medical complex of offices that was included in the original design.

Construction officials from Denver-based Spectrum thought that the facility could be up and running by 2012. 

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