Assisted living facility eyed for downtown fire site

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 8, 2008

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen heard Tuesday night from adeveloper seeking their opinions on putting a downtown nursing homeon the corner of Monticello Street and Whitworth Avenue.

Gayle Evans, who is responsible for nursing home developments inMcComb, Vicksburg, Durant and Hattiesburg, brought an embryonicidea before the board for a downtown facility for assisted living.He believes the perfect place for his dream is the site of lastyear’s May 24 fire in downtown.

Evans said he’d seen something similar in a downtown area inLouistown, Mont., and that he’d wanted to recreate the idea eversince. He said the main idea of having a nursing home downtown isso that the residents are actually still able to feel like they area part of the daily life of a town.

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“Those people are there from now on, and they’ll want a view,”he said. “If you had to stay in there for an extended time, it getsboring.”

Where in the past he has liked the idea of putting rest homes inan area with a central hospital, he believes being able to see thegoings-on of a city is much more important to the mental well-beingof people in assisted living facilities.

“They need to be able to see movement,” he said. “I’m lookingout for them more than anything.”

Evans, who did not potential project costs, said the top threefloors of the five-story building would be apartments for living,the second floor would have a center for physical therapy, and thebottom floor would include a beauty shop, a dining area and alaundry for the residents. He said he had taken care to figureconcerns for fire safety and handicapped accessibility.

Aldermen voiced concerns about parking.

Evans said he would be buying two more buildings from the Loftonfamily, who owned a large part of the lot that burned last May. Hesaid that area would be converted into a parking lot, and thealleyway behind the property widened to accommodate service andemergency vehicles.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell said he felt the idea was onethat needed to go before the city planning commission beforealdermen could advise Evans further.

“I think you’ve got a well worthwhile project, but before youspend a ton of money, I think it would be good if we could see someplans before you get too far along,” he said.

Evans said he’d be glad to work with anyone he needed to workwith on the project, and that he would draft some further plans tobring before the city.