Future undetermined for controverisal New Canaan retirement development after Waveny property purchase







Grace Duffield June 15, 2021Updated: June 15, 2021 4:04 p.m.

  • · NEW CANAAN — The president of Waveny LifeCare Network said no decisions have been made on the purchase of the property at 65 Oenoke Ridge that was originally part of the plans for a controversial 66-unit retirement community. The project was withdrawn from Planning and Zoning Commission last year.

President Russell Barksdale was noncommittal on Monday in answering whether the plans were back on the table after this purchase.

“No further information is available at this time, nor have any decisions been made,” Barksdale told Hearst Connecticut Media on Monday.

The 3,585 square-foot yellow house was purchased from the New Canaan Historical Society for $1.5 million on March 19, according to the tax assessor office town field card.

Originally, the purchase was contingent on an approval from the commission for the 127,000 square-foot Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) plans.

The proposal was withdrawn before the commission could approve or reject the plans.

The facility was to be built on nearly two acres, with the .88-acre property from this purchase and a small piece of land already owned by Waveny next to its facility, The Inn, at 73 Oenoke Ridge.

“Exercising the purchase option now gives us time to evaluate all of our options through an inclusive process to which we remain committed,” said a release during the time of purchase from Terry Henry, Waveny’s chief sales, marketing & communications officer.

This option was seen by the Board of Directors for Waveny as one in a “range of potential strategic options and is purely a prudent business decision.”

The transaction was good news for the New Canaan Historical Society located at 13 Oenoke Ridge. The historical society can now “do long-deferred maintenance, can improve its exhibition and program capabilities and can start to build an endowment,” Executive Director Nancy Geary said on June 14.

The historical society did not have a mortgage on the house, Geary said.

“The additional resources mean that we can focus exclusively on our mission and make this cultural institution an even better resource to the Town,” the historical society director said.

The plan for high-end $46 million health care facility for seniors was withdrawn from Planning and Zoning just as the pandemic started to take hold.

Waveny officials wanted to “allow its management team and town officials time to singularly focus on the threat of COVID-19 and its related effects on the health and safety of our entire community,” according to Henry’s release.

“This parcel effectively ensures a contiguous connection of important real estate that protects and improves the sustainability of Waveny’s future,” a release from Waveny states.

Neighbors and other residents were opposed to the development when it was proposed last year. A petition on change.org had garnered 1,574 signatures as of March 11, 2020.

The Colorado-based Lantz-Boggio Architects had reconfigured the building to try to appease neighbors by reducing it from 70 to 66 apartments, and from nearly 140,000 square feet to 127,000 square feet.

The facility proposed to have one-and two-bedroom units, a 120-seat movie theater, a spa, gym, fitness center, a pool and underground garage.

The one-bedroom units were expected to be 850-square feet and the two-bedroom units would be 1,500 square feet, and all of the apartments would have full kitchens, washers and dryers and other high-end amenities.

The CCRC would also share common boundaries with the New Canaan Museum and Historical Society and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

The vestry at St. Mark’s is opposed to the facility even though the church had sold land to Waveny for the Inn at Waveny. With that sale, St. Mark’s had reserved an easement of the driveway, which is shared for the Inn, and the entrance to St. Mark’s parking lot. That driveway would be used for the entrance to the CCRC.

Waveny’s main facility is a 115,000-square-foot skilled nursing facility on Farm Road with section called the Village at Waveny.