A proposal to expand Brandon Wilde in the next 15 years was approved Thursday by the Columbia County Planning Commission.
Commissioners rezoned about seven acres on six properties along Owens Road and Bohler Avenue to planned unit development to add amenities and residential buildings for the Evans retirement community, which is owned by University Health Care System.
One lot on Owens Road was previously zoned professional, and the other five were single-family residential.
The Augusta Resource Center on Aging Inc. requested the rezonings and an amendment to the original design to add 279 housing units to the retirement community at 4272 Owens Road. Both were approved by the planning commission.
Brandon Wilde President and CEO Richard Kisner said the demand for senior services continues to grow.
"It tends to be one of the bright spots in the real estate market today," he said.
In the first phase of the plan, the existing wellness center will be expanded, 30 independent-living apartments and 10 cottages will be built and a pet park will be added. The first phase is expected to take from 16 months to two years to complete and cost about $25 million, Kisner said.
The entire project, with an estimated cost of about $120 million, could take between 10 and 15 years and includes 78 cottages, 141 independent-living and 60 assisted-living apartments. About two acres of retail space at Washington and Owens roads is planned in a final phase, Kisner said.
Jeff Wilson, the president of the Idylwilde Homeowners Association, said he would oppose any retail development that extends past that corner.
"We have been trying to guard Owens Road for a very long time and want to continue to do so," he said.
Construction could start by early summer.
In other action, the planning and zoning board approved a request allowing Genesis Church to temporarily meet on the former site of Warren C. Gibbs Memorial Library, which is zoned professional.
Services will be held Sunday morning and evening in the former library at 326 N. Belair Road until the church finds a permanent location.
The planning commission also approved final plats for four lots on 16.5 acres off Silver Lake Drive in Evans and two lots on nearly 20 acres off Shucraft Road in Appling. A preliminary plat to extend Canterbury Farms Parkway off Chamblin Road also was approved.
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