Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Reserve at Williamsburg Asks York County to Remove Age Restrictions

The York County Planning Commission will consider a request to remove age restrictions from much of the Reserve at Williamsburg. The meeting will take place at York Hall on Nov. 14.
The York County Planning Commission will consider a request to remove age restrictions from much of the Reserve at Williamsburg. The meeting will take place at York Hall on Nov. 14.

The Reserve at Williamsburg in Upper York County wants to ditch the age requirement for the 339 properties that have yet to be built.

The development, located on Mooretown Road less than half a mile away from its intersection with Waller Mill Road, has filed an application to amend plans approved in September 2006. The York County Board of Supervisors at that time approved a 63-acre independent living senior housing development with a 7.7-acre commercial center. According to that plan, people aged 55 and over are allowed to live in the development, though they can have residents age 19 and older living with them.

Now the company behind the development, known as Reserve at Williamsburg LLC, wants to change course, getting rid of the age restrictions for the yet-to-be-built properties in the hopes the change will boost sales.

According to a document filed with the York County Planning Division, the market for senior housing has been slumping in recent years, due to a combination of seniors who are unable to sell their existing homes and seniors who choose to wait to move out of their existing homes until they need assisted living rather than the independent living homes in the 2006 plans for the development.

Much of the Reserve at Williamsburg has yet to be built. One component of the development that has been completed is the Verena at the Reserve, a 55-and-over apartment community near the development’s frontage on Mooretown Road. That neighborhood, which is billed as a place where seniors can remain active while enjoying on-site housekeeping and meals, would remain age restricted.

The developer sees the removal of age restrictions as a boon for businesses in Upper York County. In the document, Kingsgate Shopping Center at the corner of Mooretown and Waller Mill roads and the Williamsburg Marketcenter across the street from Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center would benefit from the approximately 700 new residents the change would bring to that part of the county.

Under the plan, the restrictions would be lifted from a group of 197 condominiums, apartments and townhomes and from 142 single-family duplexes and townhomes. Those properties are located toward the back of the development in a primarily undeveloped block of land that works its way back toward Waller Mill Reservoir.

According to the document, the parcel that would receive the 197 condominiums, apartments and townhomes has “no current market potential as age restricted condominium property, or as a second phase of the Verena at the Reserve independent living project.” That conclusion comes from an analysis  by RJS & Associates of Williamsburg and other brokers and is based on their sales efforts over the past year.

If the age restriction is removed, that parcel will be sold and developed as either market rate luxury rental apartments or as a combination of rental apartments and a separate assisted-living parcel.

The other two parcels with the 142 single-family duplexes and townhomes are currently on pace to sell 44 lots per year with age restrictions in place, according to the document. Were the restrictions to be lifted, that number could be bumped to 65 to 70 lots per year, allowing for the project to be complete more than a year earlier than anticipated.

The single-family homes would average 2,200 square feet and would have an average sale price of $350,000, according to projects from Ted Figura Consulting. That firm was contracted to conduct a fiscal impact study of what would happen if the age requirements were lowered. The townhouses would average 1,900 square feet and would have an average sale price of $250,000. The apartments would have 89 one-bedroom units leasing at $1,025 per month, 30 two-bedroom units leasing at $1,165 per month and 79 two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments leasing at $1,325 per month.

The properties were all supposed to share a 7,000 square foot clubhouse with its heated swimming pool and spa. That amenity was designed to accommodate the entire development as planned. If the age restriction is removed, recreation equipment that caters to the new age group would be constructed on the 1-acre private park in the development and among the parcel with the 197 units.

According to the fiscal impact study, the effect on schools would be “relatively low.” The developer has “indicated a willingness to agree to certain cash proffers to help fund the expansion of County schools or other needs as part of a final proposal for consideration,” according to the document. Furthermore, the apartments would go up to two bedrooms to cut down on the number of potential school kids.

“The Reserve is designed to appeal to young professionals and empty nesters, reducing the likelihood of attracting families with school age children,” according to the fiscal impact study. “Proposed unit sizes appeal to those intending to down-size or use space sustainably. This is attractive to both older baby boomer and generation Y households.”

According to the report, 122 additional students would enter the York County School Division if the age requirement was changed. That would result in 52 new students at Waller Mill Elementary School, necessitating the construction of two classrooms in 2016 and one in 2018, as well as the purchase of a new school bus.

The request from the Reserve at Williamsburg comes at a time when another major Upper York County development has also submitted plans to build hundreds of similar residential units. The Marquis at Williamsburg on Route 199 wants to build 650 units in the southern portion of that development, which is also working to land permission for more than 200,000 square feet of new commercial space.

The York County Planning Commission recommended the supervisors approve the commercial space at the Marquis during an October meeting. They will consider both the Reserve and Marquis proposals at a meeting Nov. 14.

The Planning Commission will review the Reserve at Williamsburg’s proposal at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at York Hall. During that meeting, the public will have a chance to offer comment on the proposal.

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