The Long Beach Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal for a senior living facility on an East Long Beach lot that has been vacant for several years.

The proposal by developer Sunrise Senior Living—which has built 276 senior communities across the United States and Canada—includes a two-story senior assisted and mental care living facility at 3340 Los Coyotes Diagonal south of Wardlow Road that would include 86 units that are a mixture of studio, one-and-two-bedroom units.

Of the 86 units, 50 are allocated for the assisted living portion of the project and 36 for the memory care portion, providing a total of 109 beds.

Large setbacks implemented as part of the project design will be filled with natural landscaping to enhance the overall aesthetic of the building, and provide a visual buffer on the west side of the property.

The facility will have 61 parking spaces in a lot around the facility, 55 of which will be designated specifically for Sunrise. Many of the residents will not drive, but family members and other loved ones are expected to be present at the facility as well as some ambulance traffic. A maximum of 30 employees are expected to be on the property at any given time, with an expected maximum number of four during off hours.

The project is also structured so that the lot would allow for smooth movement between the other existing buildings—two medical/professional buildings and a church—that are adjacent to the project site.

City staff noted that building facilities like this was necessary to accommodate the city’s aging population.

“With individuals living longer, aging in place can be challenging especially when individuals have special needs that cannot be accommodated by relatives or other family members,” the staff report on the project said.

The lot has been empty for several years as proposals to build there have been struck down in the past. Sunrise held a community meeting on June 2 to give a presentation to interested residents in the area.

One resident in the area, Reata Kulscar, expressed concerns at the meeting about the use of the adjacent alleyway separating the property from a former Ralphs grocery store building. While talk at the meeting suggested that the alley would only be used for trash pickup and delivery of food and supplies, she quoted the staff report as saying it would be “needed to facilitate access for ambulatory and non-ambulatory residents, shuttle excursions for local field trips, and local deliveries to avoid blocking the front entrance.”

Representatives from Sunrise said at the meeting that most of these activities outside of trash pickup and supply deliveries would be done through the building’s porte-cochere, a covered entrance for vehicles similar to what is seen at many hotels designed for smooth vehicle entry and exit. The alley, they said, would be inconvenient for other uses involving residents.

After minimal comment from Planning Commission members, the motion to accept the proposal passed unanimously.

Christian May-Suzuki is a reporter at the Long Beach Business Journal.