MANSFIELD — A Chicago-based company hopes to to build a $24-$25 million assisted living apartment complex for senior citizens at 300 Cline Ave.

The city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday met with Darrin Jolas, managing director of Vermilion Development.

He described a proposed three-story building with 120 studio apartments on the site that was once home to Appleseed Middle School.

It would open under the company’s Silver Birch brand, designed for residents 55 and older. The company has 10 local similar locations, including nine in Indiana and one in Illinois.

Jolas said it would be the company’s first project in Ohio.

“We’ve actually completed a market study of the entire state of Ohio. Mansfield was one of roughly 20 communities that we felt had the right opportunity for a population of aging seniors with limited amount of care for seniors,” Jolas said after the meeting.

“It was on our radar, an area that we knew had an opportunity for assisted living services. Just through looking at real estate opportunities, this site came to our attention pretty early on. So we first spoke about this maybe a year ago,” Jolas said.

(Below is a virtual tour of a Silver Birch assisted living apartment complex in Evansville, Ind.)

YouTube video

In 2021, the site was proposed for a Dollar General store, an effort that died when the city, including the Planning Commission, rejected efforts to have a section of the 10-acre lot rezoned as B2, or general business.

The commission on Tuesday gave the housing proposal a green-light despite the fact it would not have enough parking spaces to meet city requirements. Jolas told members most residents in these apartments do not have vehicles.

“We provide parking for our staff and visitors and potential residents that come and visit the community, but we don’t need a lot of parking. We’ve operated generally for a community of around 120 units generally in that 65- to 70-parking space range. That’s a very comfortable size for us,” he said.

A Richland Countywide housing study done recently found a growing need for senior housing. The study found that 20 percent of the county’s population are currently seniors, and another 14 percent are near seniors (age 55–64).

“In the next 10 years, the county will need to expand the number of senior-friendly units available so that these residents can age in place, such as condos or senior-only communities,” the study found.

Jolas believes the new complex could be a part of that mix.

“Assisted living is a very service-oriented form of housing. The majority of our residents, nearly all of our residents, move into assisted living at a point in their life when they generally need assistance with one of the daily activities of living,” he told the Planning Commission.

“So food, medical management, assistance with dressing things of that nature. Our communities offer housekeeping, as well as laundry services. All meals are provided to the residents. There is 24-hour nursing care and they are free to come and go as they wish. So it’s a very independent form of living,” Jolas said.

He said the average age of residents in Silver Birch residents are in their mid to late 70s.

“Most of these folks have made a conscious decision to no longer try and take care of themselves where they don’t have others to take care of them. And so it’s a housing alternative for them,” Jolas said.

He told the commission he didn’t have information on the cost of renting one of the apartments, but agreed it would be “market rate.”

“It’s service in addition to the rental for the community,” Jolas said.

“We have a bus or shuttle service. We also have what we call a medical suite. There’s a physical therapy room, as well as fitness room. But we have offices in the building and we offer up an office space for doctors to come in and hold their visitation hours with residents to prevent those residents from having to travel to their doctor. A doctor can come in and see several patients or residents in the building,” he said.

Planning Commission member Dan Seckel said the facility would appear to be compatible with the Cline Avenue neighborhood.

“There’s multi-family housing across the street. There’s tons of doctors’ offices. It’s a nice redevelopment site (and) very appropriate for this use,” he said.

Chuck Hahn, Cleveland Financial Group, invests in this independent reporting through a Newsroom Partnership. Learn more about Newsroom Partnerships.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...