Hayden project lies dormant

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

For anyone concerned that the Hayden Village Center has seemingly been abandoned, John Skirven assures them it is still viable.

A few years ago, Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia announced plans to convert the former high school into a mixed-use residency and community center. The idea quickly generated interest and funds. Last year, there was even an open house to give people an idea of what was possible. The hope then was to have the facility ready by this fall.

Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia CEO John Skirven said that work was paused last year when a key member in the project, William Wade, died suddenly last summer.

“That was a steep learning curve for me,” Skirven said. “Subsequently, we were trying to close financing through Self Help Savings and Loan out of North Carolina, but at the end of September they withdrew financing.”

That, he said, is the major reason why the project has been dormant.

Skirven continued “We are working to get the project restarted. We have formed a relationship with a new developer, Michael Glenn and Luna Development.”

There’s been a reconfiguration to make the project less expensive overall, and reportedly this has been accomplished.

“Overall, the project will cost $6 million approximately; previously, it was $9 million,” he said. “We’re in the project to finalize [new] financing; we do have a lender and we’re still waiting for a final loan commitment from the lender.”

But Skirven was not yet ready to reveal that name.

Meanwhile, active security has been and remains on the site.

“We’ve never stopped working to develop the project,” he said, but added there’ll be major changes.

• First, instead of 17 one-bedroom or efficiency apartments, there will be 27; the building is reportedly already zoned for 35.

• Second, there will be a caterer’s kitchen instead of either a full-service setup or restaurant.

• Third, originally an adult day care was planned in the former shop area, but there’s no provider as yet.

“We have not ruled out Adult Day Care,” Skirven said. “We do want to use the 5,000-plus square feet to provide services or programs or businesses that will benefit the health of the citizens of Franklin.”

He confirmed that Senior Services will still move its offices for Western Tidewater into that facility, All day programs will also be housed at the new site.

Intergenerational programming is something that still very much interests Skirven and the other planners. Youth basketball could be one of those features.

There will be design changes, such as bringing a glass elevator inside, and doing so is also expected to save money.

Another way to reduce expenses is to change the heating system. Each apartment will have its own heating source.

“The apartments are going to be very nice,” Skirven said, adding that Luna Development is also certified as a Class A contractor, though it could subcontract that labor.

“We are very pleased that we have developed this partnership,” he said. “They’re very solid and have lots of experience.”

The agency leader said, “We’re staying true to the intent of the project.”

He estimates that once financing is secured, it will be 10 months to complete the construction, with occupancy available in late spring of 2017.