Saying that he’s keeping his options open, developer Abe Aityeh presented plans for a 175-bed personal care home at 1838 Center St., a grassy parcel on the corner of Dewberry Avenue where Atiyeh has also proposed a psychiatric hospital, apartment complex, and most recently a Lidl grocery store.
The layout of the facility is essentially the same footprint as the 125-bed apartment complex that was shot down by zoners last year because it was not allowed in the city’s institutional zoning district. The personal care home would include four four-story buildings. The only addition is a single-story, 50-bed building for senior citizens with mobility issues.
Atiyeh said the rooms wouldn’t be double occupancy. If a couple needed a unit, there would be doors that could turn a unit into a suite with two bedrooms.
The planning commission gave an initial review of the plans at their meeting Thursday night.
“One of my concerns is that we just need some clarification on how do we define this as a personal care facility? It’s laid out as apartments and it has the same kind of parking you’d demand if it were apartments,” said Darlene Heller, the city’s planning director.
Atiyeh is proposing 228 spaces, though only 63 are required. He argued that most baby boomers continue to drive and there also needs to be spaces for visitors.
Heller said in her experience, parking demand is much less at a personal care home because many of the residents no longer drive.
Planners also raised concerns about green space, noting that the parking spaces back up to Center Street. Rob Melosky, chairman of the planning commission, said he was concerned about how that would look in an area he considers to be a gateway into Bethlehem’s downtown.
“I’m not asking you to