Ingleside breaks ground for long-planned expansion

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Ingleside at Rock Creek began its 30-month expansion project in August. (Brian Kapur/The Current/August 2017)

Construction began this month at the Ingleside at Rock Creek retirement community on two new independent living buildings and a parking garage, a long-planned project that will last through spring 2020 in a quiet corner of Chevy Chase.

Ingleside, located at 3050 Military Road NW, is currently demolishing some of its existing buildings to accommodate the project, which will add a midrise building with 105 independent living units and a new Center for Healthy Living; and a new four-story Health Services Building, which will offer assisted living, memory care, short- and long-term skilled nursing care, a rehab center and wellness offices.

Since 2013, the nonprofit retirement center has worked extensively with Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3/4G (Chevy Chase) on commitments that minimize the construction impact. During the project’s inception, Ingleside greatly reduced its proposed construction time and scaled back some of its development plans.

Work was originally expected to begin late last year, but demolition began on Aug. 17 after various delays to the project. Demolition will take approximately five to six weeks to complete before construction work on the new buildings can begin.

“We went through a process of working with them for probably two years — many, many, many meetings, easily a dozen that were outside of regular ANC meetings,” ANC 3/4G chair Randy Speck said in an interview. “As a result of that, we reached an agreement that had broad support from the community. The vote on the plans was ultimately 7-0 in support” — despite community outcry over Ingleside’s initial proposal in 2013.

The memorandum of understanding between the ANC and Ingleside — “a 15-page, single-spaced document,” according to Speck — includes all of Ingleside’s plans and the ways in which the construction will impact the neighborhood. The agreement also establishes an “Ingleside Expansion Task Force” led by Speck to oversee this 30-month project, keep in contact with Ingleside, and ensure that disruption to residents is minimal.

“The primary concern within the neighborhood was the impact during construction, and less with the facility after it was built,” Speck said. “We even had people at meetings say, ‘I want to have a place like Ingleside to go when I retire because I want to stay in the community, and the only way that they can do that is if they expand.’”

One major issue, according to Speck, was the parking location for construction workers. Residents were worried about the increased traffic in the neighborhood during the project, and so Ingleside arranged for workers to park off-site on the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus.

In addition to nearby residents, the project also affects the neighboring Temple Sinai. Temple director Ellen Agler joined the neighborhood task force to preserve the tranquility of the worship space, and she told The Current that working with Ingleside has been a positive experience thus far. Construction will not take place on the Jewish High Holy Days, and Temple Sinai has agreed to allow construction workers to park in its lot during specified low-traffic times of the day.

Communication with the community has been key, said Steven J. Van Dorpe, director of construction management at Westminster Ingleside Group, the development and management partner.

“With monthly ‘Ingleside Expansion Task Force’ meetings, Ingleside [and Westminster Ingleside Group] have continually worked with the ANC and neighborhood representatives to report on project progress and to maintain open lines of communication,” Van Dorpe said.

Speck is pleased that Ingleside has been so willing to engage in a dialogue with the community — “unlike some other large developments that have come to our neighborhood,” he said. Speck told The Current that he gets updates from Ingleside almost daily.

“Now, though, we’re just getting to the point of real serious construction, so we’ll see how it works,” he said. “We already have commitments from them, and these commitments are written into the contracts between Ingleside and their contractors, so I want to think positive. And I think we’ve done everything in our power to minimize disruption.”