The Spires at Berry College, a new retirement community being planned for acreage adjacent to the former Florida Rock quarry now known as Eagle Lake, may well change the face of West Rome.
The Spires at Berry will offer a combination of independent living cottages and apartments that progress up the whole continuum of care to assisted living and care residences. During a meeting last fall, Berry Trustee C.B. “Buster” Wright III said the median net worth of people who had made deposits on residences was right at $2 million.
“The Spires residents and their demographic profile will be a welcome addition to our community,” said Rome Floyd Chamber President Al Hodge. “That profile includes having disposable income and people who want to be active in the greater community.”
The Board of Directors for what is known corporately as Lavender Mountain Senior Living, met earlier this month and got a report indicating there was a strong market demand for freestanding cottages and tweaked the design of the new community, adding 10 cottages and reducing the number of apartments. The total number of units to be built at The Spires is now 174. Morgan Lamphere, vice president of marketing for Greenbrier Development, said last week the community has 84 reservation deposits.
With these changes, the community needs 123 reservation deposits in order to move forward with financing and then construction, and Lamphere said they anticipate reaching that number sometime late this summer.
The first redevelopment domino to fall in the area near The Spires is a small 1.13-acre sliver of property at the intersection of Redmond Road and Redmond Circle, across the street from the old Northwest Georgia Credit Union property.
Charles Parker, a former county commissioner and real estate agent at Hardy Realty, has negotiated the sale of that property to a family-oriented company. Vinod Patel currently has nine convenience stores across Northwest Georgia, from Rome to Dalton. His son-in-law and daughter, Arpit Patel and Avani Patel, will own and operate a 4,900-square-foot upscale BP convenience store.
“It will be about half deli and half convenience store,” Parker said. Parker said the project has already been through the Board of Adjustments for variances on setbacks.
Kumar Patel said the family hopes to break ground on the project in less than two weeks, with the idea of opening in late August or September. Kumar said the deli section will be a very open area and that there will be enough room to provide ample seating for guests. The deli will be open throughout the day and offer everything from breakfast to dinner items. The buffet will feature large biscuits, bacon, eggs, sausage and the like for breakfast daily. Pizza and fried chicken will be daily features in the afternoon and evening. “There will always be something special on the buffet from lasagna to meatloaf and probably catfish on Fridays,” Kumar said.
He also stressed that the store will have as much lighting as they can get Georgia Power to approve to enhance safety.
Across Redmond Road, Coosa Valley Credit Union has plans for the building at 1307 Redmond Road, which it acquired when it merged with the former Northwest Georgia Credit Union in 2016.
“Coosa Valley Credit Union is committed to the Rome community,” said Andy F. Harris, president and CEO of Coosa Valley Credit Union. “In the next three to five years, we plan to relocate our main branch, executive offices, and operations center to a new building at the 1307 Redmond Road location.”
Berry Vice President for Finance Brian Erb said Berry itself will still have some property adjacent to The Spires development that could be available for additional development.
“I would think The Spires would hopefully kick off some domino decisions of development in that neighborhood for sure,” Erb said. He said the college itself has a thin strip of land along Redmond Circle from the entrance to The Spires, west to Technology Parkway, but said, “Berry currently does not have any plans to further develop anything in that area, but you never know.”
Chamber chief Hodge said, “I believe it will help West Rome, downtown and Armuchee, since it sits at a pivot point for all three.”
He said The Spires’ proximity to the former Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property, basically right across Redmond Circle, would be “a great selling point for entities that want to be involved with that campus.”
Hodge said the redevelopment plan for the former state hospital property developed by TSW consultants includes a live-work-play section with residential units with some commercial use.
“You have to remember it’s a long-term plan so we are still working on opportunities for re-use of that property with the state,” Hodge said.
The area is also close to the Westminster townhouse development on Redmond Road, as well as Brookdale Rome at 180 Woodrow Wilson Way and Highland Estates senior living community at 179 Woodrow Wilson Way.
Redmond Regional Medical Center and two other major medical office buildings are also located less than 2 miles from where The Spires at Berry College will be constructed.