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Vacant Gaskins Site May Get New Life

A handful of people moved in after the center opened in 2001, then a few months later were transferred out after owner and developer Dr. Nazir A. Chaudhary, a psychiatrist who owns several other retirement facilities in Virginia, shut it down for financial reasons.

Now weeds run rampant in the scraggly lawn fronting the low brick building. An "Available, Sale/Lease" sign stands at the entrance.

Area residents have been wondering what's next for the $3.5 million facility. A sale is in the works, confirms attorney Greer P. Jackson Jr., who represents the current owner, but he declines to say to whom.

Chaudhary did not return repeated calls. The Henrico Citizen reported in March that while he was trying to open the center in 2001, several other facilities owned by his Dogwood Realty company in Northern Virginia faced closure for reprimands issued by the Virginia Department of Social Services.

The Gaskins facility fell on hard times for two reasons, observes Michael Brindley, director of community relations for a nearby assisted-living center, Brighton Gardens by Marriott: "opening up with road construction [along Gaskins in front of the building] and that on the outside it appeared different from some of the upscale living facilities."

The midpriced center, which charged about $2,000 per month, is relatively unprepossessing when compared to the two higher-end retirement facilities in the area: Brighton Gardens and Hermitage at Cedarfield. A single-story brick structure is tucked alone in a tangle of trees. The view across the road is a heap of dirt surrounded by bulldozers.

The market for senior living is good now — 20 percent of Henrico's population is older than 55, and numbers will only increase. But perhaps elder care is not the fate of the Gaskins building.

"We heard what's probably going to happen is doctors are going to buy it, turn it into doctors' offices," Brindley says.

— M.S.S.

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