John Madonna is proposing a 342-unit retirement community, including a skilled nursing facility, on 111 acres along the southwestern edge of San Luis Obispo.
The continuing care retirement community — which would be unique to San Luis Obispo County — would comprise 50 acres of the site and include amenities for its residents: restaurants, a recreation center, a swimming pool, theater, and a health center that provides memory care, assisted living and skilled nursing.
The land is located directly west of the intersection of Los Osos Valley Road and Calle Joaquin, next to the Froom Ranch Shopping Center.
“We’re trying to build a project here that’s of the greatest benefit to the community and is something that endures,” said Madonna, CEO of John Madonna Construction Co. Inc. “It’s a place where you’ll never have to move again.”
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Madonna, son of Phyllis Madonna and the late Alex Madonna, bought the land in 2011 from his mother. He estimated the retirement community would cost about $250 million to build. Additional development of 60 to 80 single-family homes, 250 rental apartments and some retail space could occur later, but the cost of that portion has not been determined.
He said he would like to see construction start on the retirement community in 2018.
“We’re trying to push to get the retirement community in,” Madonna said. Friends who know about his project have asked about when it would be available for their parents.
“When I tell them 2018 to 2020 it’s disappointing when they say it’s probably going to be too late for their parents,” he said.
The continuing care retirement facility would include a mix of 276 independent living apartments and 66 villas with one-, two- or three-bedroom options.
The assisted living, memory care and long-term care facility would have 122 beds, according to a project description statement prepared by RRM Design Group and submitted to the city in April.
Madonna said the community is being modeled after University Village in Thousand Oaks and would be managed by Life Care Services, which manages that community in southeastern Ventura County. San Luis Obispo-based Villaggio Communities would design and develop the project.
Madonna said residents would pay a large entry fee — $350,000 or more depending on the number of bedrooms needed — which then pays for the community’s capital improvement costs.
A monthly fee would cover one meal a day, linen service, gym membership and other amenities. When a resident moves or dies, about 75 percent of the entry fee would return to the person’s estate, said Ray Walters, a principal at Villaggio Communities.
There are about 106 continuing care retirement communities in California, Walters said.
Madonna’s plan, however, doesn’t match the city’s goals for the property as laid out in its land-use element (part of the General Plan, or master plan for growth), which calls for a compact, mixed-use project that provides workforce housing options and neighborhood commercial uses.
In addition, at least 50 percent of the property is to remain in open space or agriculture uses.
Madonna has submitted a pre-application request to the city. Before he can submit a formal application, the city’s Planning Commission and City Council must consider whether they want to entertain his request for a specific plan and general plan amendments, said Doug Davidson, the city’s deputy director of development review.
“That’s why we’re doing a more formal authorization because it doesn’t fit completely within the land-use policy,” Davidson said. “We have to go through the process to determine if a retirement community fits that goal. And we want the commission and council to weigh in on other issues before we get an application.”
Those issues also include building most of the retirement community above a 150-foot elevation on the Irish Hills area, which the land-use element does not allow. But developments in other hillside planning areas have exceeded the 150-foot elevation limit: the nearby Mountainbrook Church and KSBY-TV studios, as well as other areas northwest of the site, according to the RRM Design project description.
The land is located outside city limits and would have to be annexed into San Luis Obispo.
The annexation would have to be approved by the San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission, which would consider that request after the project receives city approval.