As people headed down the long dirt road that leads to the future site of Chesterbrook Residences, comments such as "can you believe this day is finally here," and "we never thought this moment would arrive," could be heard in almost every conversation.
"As we navigated over the stones and the bumps on the way over here, you kind of got a feel of what it was like to navigate this project," joked Jane Edmondson, Secretary of Chesterbrook Residences, Inc. (CRI).
Indeed, the May 10 groundbreaking ceremony was a long time in the coming. It all began in 2000, when members of Chesterbrook Presbyterian Church realized that their church did not have the economic means to survive. The members asked the National Capital Presbytery (NCP) to dissolve the congregation, but also requested that the church building continue to be used as a church home, and that the vacant five-acre land behind the building be used for an assisted living facility for low-income seniors. NCP agreed to both requests.
In 2001, a new congregation moved into the church building, and it became the Chesterbrook Taiwanese Presbyterian Church. At the same time, the NCP asked Lewinsville Presbyterian Church to look into the possibility of creating an assisted living facility. Chesterbrook Residences, Inc. (CRI), a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-sectarian organization made up of Lewinsville and Immanuel Presbyterian Churches, Temple Rodef Shalom and the NCP was created.
In 2002, it was established that an assisted living facility was in fact feasible for the site. However, due to citizen opposition to the project, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was not able to approve the project's land use application until April of 2004. Then, due to complicated housing laws, it took until March 2006 for the project's site plan and required permits to be approved.
CONSTRUCTION of Fairfax County's first mixed income assisted living facility is finally underway, and Chesterbrook Residences is scheduled to open in July 2007.
"It is CRI's hope that these residences will be a place where the frail and the elderly will have a table to eat at and a bed to sleep on... so that they will have a place to live their life out in the the presence of dignity and love," said Gerald Hopkins, President of CRI at the groundbreaking ceremony. "CRI from the beginning, has been a community activity."
The facility will have 97 units, 49 of which will be reserved for low income seniors whose annual income is $31,000 or less, and five of which will be reserved for low income seniors whose annual income is $20,000 or less. Of the remaining units, six will be leased below market rate, and 42 will be leased at market rate.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, also spoke at the Chesterbrook groundbreaking ceremony. As chair of the Fairfax County Housing and Community Development committees, Hudgins is aware of the county's need for affordable housing for seniors.
"Fairfax County has a lot of things to celebrate," said Hudgins. "But we do have a challenge, and that challenge is providing housing for all those who need it in our community... and citizens who have lived in and served our community all their lives certainly deserve a place where they can stay and be taken care of in that community."