|Volume 5, Issue 5||
Touchmark Heights planning nears completion
By Virginia Bruce
To meet the needs of some members of the growing population of aging boomers (see article "Tsunami of Aging"), Touchmark is building a new 53-acre active adult community northwest of the intersection of Miller and Barnes. This is part of the area we wrote about in last month’s history article that once was called Swedeville, and one location included in the property is called Swede Hill (elevation 950 feet).
Because the property is steep and wooded, Touchmark decided to configure the residences into clusters of six-to-eight-story buildings that will offer views of the valley and surrounding woods. Touchmark’s planning provides for a significant amount of the property to remain undeveloped with areas of more manicured landscaping and walking/jogging trails. Most of the parking will be within underground garages of each residential building, further reducing the total “hardscape” on the property. Building placement is planned to minimize re-grading of the property, thus also minimizing tree clearing.
Touchmark Heights will include a health and fitness club, spa, and an indoor pool, with phased planning for additional amenities.
Touchmark requested only two modifications to county requirements: building height and parking. The tallest buildings will be approximately 100 feet. Touchmark says that traffic impact on the neighborhood will not be as great as with a “normal” single-family home development, because a number of services will be provided on site. A shared car for Touchmark residents is planned, which also will help alleviate the need for additional cars and parking. The nearby shopping center is within walking/biking distance.
The original application was submitted in April 2006. Neighbors initially expressed concerns that the tall buildings would interfere with existing views, but the Touchmark development application states, “…the proposed structures are configured so as to leave open space at the top of each hilltop and provides a scenic viewing opportunity at Swede’s Hill Vista. Further, the substantial buffer of existing wooded landscape will obscure the view of the buildings from below.”
An additional application was submitted this past February to make some lot-line adjustments and add a secondary access road to Phase 1 of the Touchmark development.
Road connectivity was an issue with the county. The Cedar Mill-Cedar Hills Community Plan calls for development in this area to connect to area roads, but Touchmark developers argue that steep slopes preclude such connections, and also that this planned community should not be subject to the grid-type of road plans common in single-family subdivisions. Many environmentalists and urban planners agree that high-density buildings surrounded by large natural areas make sense as a way of accommodating growth without plastering the landscape with concrete and roof.
Bruce Dalyrmple, a Touchmark executive vice president, says “We want to create a ‘sense of place’ and we do not support connectivity that would create cut-through traffic patterns within Touchmark Heights or surrounding neighborhoods.”
Touchmark has proposed a single-family development for a portion of the north end of the property, but this is not included in the current application. A gated emergency accessway will connect Touchmark’s private road system within the development to the Stark Street right-of-way along the northern margin. A pedestrian path will also connect to Stark. The developers expect that the total build-out of the community may continue for up to ten years.
There will be only one entrance to the community, on Miller at Mayway Drive, which will be somewhat realigned. A roundabout and gatehouse will be located further inside the development, and then the road will wind around the southeastern hill with a side road leading to the second cluster around Swede Hill. Two emergency access points also are planned.
has included LEED green-building design consultants within their consultant
team, and plans to incorporate an eco-green approach to the design of
this active adult community.
A neighborhood meeting to review property Touchmark is considering adding to development planning west of the original site is planned for May 9, 6:30 PM at the Cedar Hills Recreation Center Room C-1, 11640 SW Park Way in Cedar Hills.
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