The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 20, 2012

An economic boost for Richland, area | Retirement cottages, restaurants mean jobs

The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Two major, economy-pleasing projects were announced last week for Richland Township, our region’s business and entertainment hub.

Although both proposals are in early stages, they are strong signals that investors see our area as having a sound economic future.

Announced over a two-day period were:

-- Groundwork for a 32-acre development of retirement cottages by Arbutus Park Retirement Community.

-- Plans to build two popular restaurants – an Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.

Both projects have created a buzz throughout our community. Obviously, many new jobs are envisioned.

“We know the boomers are coming. And we know they want a lot of different choices for how they live,” said Rick Wilson, Arbutus Park’s administrator. “We want to be ready.”

Although exact designs are not yet in place, Wilson said the one-story cottages each would contain 1,400 to 1,800 square feet of living space with attached two-car garages.

The units also would come with modern furnishings and porches and include attractive amenities such as meal delivery and maintenance.

As reported by our David Hurst, Arbutus generally offers its cottages to retirees 65 and older for an up-front, lump-sum deposit.

Once admitted, residents are offered a seamless transition to nursing care later in life, if needed.

The independent-living community is being proposed along Parker Road, not far from the Arbutus Park campus.

In the other project, Darden Restaurants has received the OK of the Richland School District, property owner, to locate the two restaurants along Theatre Drive.  

The Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse are huge favorites of pasta and steak lovers. Area diners have long had them on their wish lists.  

Darden plans to put the restaurants on six acres of undeveloped land the school board has guarded closely, turning down other offers from potential buyers over the years

Last week’s news bodes well, too, for the tax bases of Richland Township and its school system.

In addition, both of the restaurants would draw even more out-of-town diners and shoppers.

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