Former senior living facility gets a facelift

A blighted former senior living facility is scheduled to get a modern makeover in the next year. But it won’t be an easy task.

Tomorrow Aug. 20, the Exeter Planning Commission will consider an updated site plan review to convert the former Exeter Manor House to an apartment complex at corner of Crespi Avenue and Chestnut Avenue across from Exeter Union High School’s softball field. The former senior living center includes seven housing units in three detached buildings on 0.62 acres. The three structures would be converted into a five-bedroom single family residence, a duplex and fourplex.

“The entire complex is in poor condition,” wrote City Planner Greg Collins in his report to the Planning Commission. “Converting the complex from an adult care facility to an apartment complex will take a major remodeling effort.”

Some of the major obstacles to the project listed by Collins were bringing the three buildings up to code, creating necessary off-street parking, installing new landscaping and automatic irrigation system and remodeling the outside of the dilapidated buildings to provide more street appeal. The project was moving at a “glacial pace” and came to a halt after the applicant, Mr. Plata, was killed in a car accident earlier this year. Mrs. Plata took over the project, removed the project manager and is attempting to salvage the project as “she and her husband have spent a significant amount of money on the project with not much to show for it,” Collins wrote.

The site plan for the project was originally approved in February with six conditions of approval including replacing and repairing all sidewalks along Chestnut Avenue, making the corner at Chestnut and Crespi wheelchair accessible, parking lots and driveways must be brought up to standard, landscaping and irrigation must be modernized and the trash enclosure must be covered with a trellis.

After planning staff inspected the site and buildings earlier this year, Collins said he was recommending modifications to the site plan “to provide for a design that has more street appeal, is more efficient for residents and will be an asset for the neighborhood rather than a detraction.” The most notable change was a covered carport that would be attached to the proposed duplex. Collins said Plata is attempting to finish the single-family home and the duplex first and then later turn her attention to the fourplex.

“I’ve indicated to all players—Mrs. Plata, her on-site builder, their draftsman and the building inspector—that no occupancy of either unit can occur until covered parking is constructed, landscaping and irrigation installed and sidewalks are improved,” Collins wrote.

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