Facility would offer 70-80 people full-time employment
A 64-resident assisted living facility, one of the largest business and employment opportunities ever proposed for rural Rappahannock County, is being discussed for the town of Washington.
“What I do is assisted livings,” says Craig Lussi of Gibson Island, Md. “We’re the highest rated in the state of Maryland. We want to bring assisted living to the town of Washington.”
Lussi, who has brokered several major developments in and around Washington, D.C. — from the breathtaking rooftop views of 101 Constitution Avenue to the much-heralded House of Sweden (the Embassy of Sweden) at the confluence of Rock Creek and the Potomac River — is eyeing a 14-acre property in the town of Washington to build Virginia’s first “Assisted Living Well” facility.
“We have nine assisted livings around D.C., in Maryland, we’re building two right now,” Lussi tells the Rappahannock News in a telephone interview. “Our ratio for employees, who are mostly young people, is more than the residents. So you’re talking 70 to 80 young people who would be working there around the clock. It’s a great source of income.”
Lussi is related my marriage to Charlie Tompkins, who owns and currently lives on the 14 acre site bordering Warren Avenue at the entrance to Washington. Approximately half the property is situated inside town limits.
At one point over the last century, the Tompkins family was the third largest construction contractor in the United States, having a hand in building everything from the wings of the White House to CIA headquarters to the 190 acres that became Pentagon City. Much of the American University and George Washington University campuses were built by Tompkins’ grandfather during the early 20th century.
“I’ve been bugging Charlie for a long time. ‘Wow,’ I said, ‘if you’re ever interested I’ll do an assisted living on your property,’” says Lussi, a graduate of the University of Virginia.
He describes the Tompkins site as ideal for prospective elderly residents and family members alike who would regularly come to visit.
“This town is an incredible draw for assisted living,” says Lussi. “To come and visit your grandmother and grandfather and have a wonderful meal or several meals and stay over.”
Unlike an assisted living facility in a remote location, he explains, the senior care facility would have everything that the town of Washington has to offer right at its doorstep.
“This is the best location in Virginia,” Lussi says. “The town is the attraction.”
Lussi tells this newspaper that as with his other assisted living facilities he would construct a total of four separate buildings, each housing 16 residents. Two buildings would be finished first for prospective residents to move into, and he guarantees there would be a waiting list before the other two buildings were completed.
“There’s always waiting lists,” the developer says of his current Maryland facilities. “We do things one way, we do them extremely well.”
Lussi says the next step is to get his written proposals into the laps of both Washington and Rappahannock County officials.
He stresses that while plans for the facility have been years in the making, he and Tompkins were spurred into action by the town’s sudden proposal to build a post office on a half-acre parcel across Warren Avenue from Tompkins’ 14 acre property.
Both Tompkins and Lussi surprised Town Council officials at Monday’s regular monthly meeting when first disclosing details of their construction proposal, which actually includes options for a new post office, along with a “small museum” to house archives and other memorabilia from the Tompkins’ construction empire, which no longer exists.
“The family legacy,” Lussi describes the contents. “With their huge philanthropy and everything else they deserve a museum.”
“I love the sound of you being interested in developing some kind of assisted living [facility] on Charlie’s property,” outgoing Mayor John Fox Sullivan told Lussi at Monday’s meeting, making clear at the same time that the town would continue to pursue its original site for a new post office, which faces immediate deadlines.
“And if it turns out the post office doesn’t like our idea I’m sure we’ll come back to you hands on knees saying how about your alternative,” said Sullivan.