More Senior Apartments Eyed

WHEELING – Nearly three years after the demolition of the old Kepner mansion along National Road, the sprawling 2-acre lot is the planned site of a new townhouse-style housing development for seniors.

The city Planning Commission will review the proposal from the Welty Corp. – which purchased the 1287 National Road next to the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center about three years ago – during its April 14 meeting.

According to the Welty Corp., each 2,200-square foot home will feature an open floor plan, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen, two-car garage, a private patio and landscaped gardens.

“Each of these homes will be one-story homes on a level lot. These amenities are hard to find in the city of Wheeling,” said Welty Corp. Manager Donald Kirsch.

Based on preliminary sketches, city Assistant Economic and Community Development Director Tom Connelly doesn’t believe the project would require any zoning variances.

Connelly said the need for quality, affordable housing – particularly for seniors and young professionals – has been growing for some time. A lack of options for those groups was a recurring theme during several public meetings in recent months as the city updates its comprehensive plan.

“I think it’s always been an issue … based on the aging population of the city,” Connelly said.

The Welty Corp. manages the Clara Welty and Bertha Welty apartment buildings on National Road, the Welty Home for the Aged assisted living facility on Washington Avenue and Good Shepherd Nursing Home on Edgington Lane.

The Welty project and another announced recently show developers seem to be stepping up to meet the need, at least for one of those groups.

Earlier this month, Planning Commission members approved the site plan for a 40-unit apartment building specifically for tenants 62 and older on the site of the former Fort Henry Motor Inn in Elm Grove. The developer, Woda Group Inc. – which also operates the Providence Greene apartments in North Wheeling – hopes to be renting units there by the fall of 2015.

When Welty purchased the property from Terry Mason, there was a deed restriction attached prohibiting any construction on the lot prior to this year. At the time, the company said it was forced to raze the old mansion due to asbestos, mold and other hazards inside, and the landmark – home to the Speidel family and later, the Kepners – came down during the summer of 2011.