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Housing facility for seniors set to open in the fall

(ran EO edition)

Construction that began on the southeast corner of Charter Club Drive and East Lake Road in October is expected to be complete next September when the Allegro at East Lake opens its doors.

The 92-bedroom independent-living facility at 1755 East Lake Road, just south of and across from East Lake High School, is being built by Hallmark Senior Housing of St. Louis.

"The East Lake corridor took a couple of years to find," Hallmark president David Kirkland said. "After studying the area, we found it would be well-served by this kind of facility."

Kirkland said the 15-acre site had been zoned low-density residential for 33 multifamily units, but the property was rezoned last year.

"This will be a lower-intensity use, in part because the residents don't drive and there will be fewer residents than the number who would live in the multifamily homes," he said.

Under Florida law, independent-living facilities differ from assisted-living facilities in the degree of freedom that residents have.

"Our residents are free to come and go as they like," Kirkland said. "They are not as frail as the residents of assisted-living facilities, and we don't provide medical care."

Allegro will be staffed by about 95 employees working around-the-clock shifts. None will be nurses, Kirkland said, but emergency buttons will be installed in all rooms for a resident to signal for help if needed. Residents will range in age from 75 to 95.

"This is based on a social model more than a medical model," Kirkland said. "It's really a blend of home and hospitality. People come to us because they choose to remain independent."

The 35,791-square-foot building was designed by PQH Architect in Tampa and civil engineers from Florida Land Design in Tampa. It will be three stories high and include 11,908 square feet of parking. The lobby's ceiling will be three stories high. Units will include screened-in porches and a view of the wetlands. Kirkland said there also will be a dining room, putting green, a swimming pool and a cabana custom-designed in mosaic.

Prices will range from $1,600 a month for a studio; $1,950 for a one-bedroom unit and $3,000 for a two-bedroom unit. The cost includes utilities, cable television, meals, housekeeping, social activities and transportation to stores and appointments.

Kirkland said the marketing staff will be on site in May.

Hallmark Senior Housing, under the management of Love Management Co. in St. Louis, built three Allegro facilities in Florida in the 1980s. They are in St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Another is planned in Lake Mary next year.

Open space dwindles

as development continues

As the the new year opens, the sound of bulldozers and hammers will continue in East Lake, with new residents and more traffic to follow in the future, according to Pinellas County planners.

From the Pasco County line to Tampa Road, East Lake's 22,156 acres make up one of the last areas of the county with undeveloped land. Still, more than 10,000 acres are preserved as recreational and open space under federal, state and county regulations.

"There are homes remaining to be built, but there won't be many new parcels that can be developed," said the county's general planning administrator, Gordon Beardslee.

Beardslee said the department has projected that the 2000 population of 24,275 will grow to 31,842 by 2030.

Once the site of citrus and cattle farms and pristine spaces, East Lake's landscape began to see wholesale changes as four major developments _ Tarpon Woods, Lake Tarpon Village, East Lake Woodlands and Boot Ranch _ replaced pastures with single-family homes.

Building began with East Lake Woodlands, Tarpon Woods and Lake Tarpon Village in the early 1970s.

The 3,334 condominiums, apartments and houses in East Lake Woodlands' 1,230 acres were being finished at a rate of 200 per year between 1995 and 1998, according to Marvin Rose, a housing industry consultant with Rose Residential Reports.

Most of the 1,300 units being built on Tarpon Woods' 612 acres are single-family homes.

Boot Ranch changed when its 375 acres were developed in the 1980s with 1,956 apartments and single-family homes.

The last major development, Lake Tarpon Village, was built in the 1990s. North of Tarpon Woods Boulevard, the development spans both sides of East Lake Road and now is known as Woodfield, Ridgemoor and Lansbrook. When built out, the subdivisions will have 3,607 houses and 4,623 multifamily units.

The predominant residential zoning in East Lake limits development to five units per acre, although north of Tarpon Woods, there are zonings that allow only 1 or 2{ units per acre.

Development brings traffic, and the number of cars on the road is expected to grow at an even faster pace than the area's population.

In February 1999, officials counted 31,532 vehicles per day on East Lake Road south of Keystone Road. That is expected to increase to 55,420 by 2020, according to Pinellas County's Metropolitan Planning Organization, the county's transportation planning agency.

Another 170 units to be built in the next few years north of the Pasco County line could add more traffic.

"It's difficult to assess exactly," said Sara Ward, administrator of the traffic division. "East Lake won't grow much more, but a lot of uncertainty has to do with residential development in Pasco County."

Ward said because Pinellas County has a broader base of jobs, many new residents of Pasco County may be traveling through East Lake daily.

Last year's traffic counts found that East Lake Road averaged 25,916 to 40,967 vehicles a day. Ward said Keystone Road will be widened in the future. She added that traffic on East Lake Road may be alleviated by plans to extend Belcher Road 5.2 miles from St. Petersburg to Klosterman Road.

_ If you have news or photos about East Lake schools, churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, community organizations or people, contact Christine Graef at the North Pinellas Times. You can call her at (727) 445-4229, email material to her at graefsptimes.com or mail material to North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.

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