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Senior center planned for Wrens Highway

Vergil Daughtery and Gary Willingham have big plans for land near the Jefferson Electric office on Wrens Highway.

Within the next few years, the men -- along with a few business partners -- envision 28 acres of mixed-use development: shopping venues, single family homes and multi-family homes.

The centerpiece of the acreage would be a 130-unit independent-living community for residents 62 years old and older.

Their rezoning request for the land was preliminarily approved by Thomson Planning Commission members last week and now awaits reviews by the Thomson City Council on May 13.

Mr. Daughtery, who represents project partner North Carolina-based Southeastern United Methodist Rehabilitation, Inc., said the independent living facility is planned in two sections -- 65 units each, the first breaking ground in March 2005.

He said developers hope to use a combination of state and federal financial programs to fund the development -- the first time such a deal has been attempted.

If all goes as planned, the facility will be built with no debt, meaning rents may be able to remain under $250 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

"We'll be able to build a high-end retirement community that will have a reasonable cost to residents," he said.

The retirement community would include outdoor walking paths, a gazebo and garden, theater, computer labs, exercise room and other amenities.

If the development is successful, Mr. Daughtery said other communities may come looking for ideas.

"We're going to build you a nationally significant project," he said. "It's going to be something people come from all over to see."

Web posted on Thursday, April 29, 2004

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