By Tom Embrey: The Pilot Newspaper - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

With apologies to Carole King, neighbors living near Rhode Island Ave. can feel the earth move under their feet.


The shaking and rumbling, and noise, is due to construction of Penick Woodlands on the Penick Village campus. Work crews are three months into an 18-month process of building a three-story, 69-unit apartment complex and a two-story central hub/activities center.


And at times, the work can be heard and felt on campus and in the surrounding neighborhood.


“When they run that vibratory compactor, it’s similar to when Ft. Bragg is bombing,” said Jeff Hutchins, CEO of Penick Village. “It moves some pictures.”


Phil Martinello, marketing director at Penick, said he empathizes with those living in the neighborhood.


“I can feel it in my office, so I know there is a rumble through the neighborhood that they (individuals) are hearing and feeling, but there is nothing we can do about the noise.”


The apartment building will feature several different floor plans. Apartments will range in size from a 1,000 square-foot, one-bedroom to an 1,800 square-foot two-bedroom.


Currently Penick Village has 195 residents. With the addition of the new apartment building, that number should grow to 310.


The hub will be centrally located and allow the campus to be more walkable for residents.


The new central hub will feature four dining areas, a life enrichment center with class rooms, multi-purpose rooms and a cinema, and a convenience store.


“It is a natural front door to our campus,” said Hutchins. “It (Hub) will also offer more services and opportunities to our residents.”


The apartment building is scheduled for completition in July 2011. The hub should be finished by February of the same year.


“It’s going to be an 18-month adventure for us,” Hutchins said.


This is the first major work on the Penick campus in nearly a half-century. Martinello said that has been a bit unsettling for some residents, but as the work has progressed they have become more supportive.


“The most difficult thing is this has long been a quiet neighborhood and now there is all this activitiy,” Martinello said. "(Residents) don’t want to see change, but now that they are starting to see the results of our efforts they are very supportive.”


Hutchins said he has received few complaints, and the ones he hears about deal more with issures over contractors parking vehicles in front of homes. Hutchins said that those issues are addressed as soon as they come up.


Prior to construction beginning, neighbors were notified by mail about the work that would be done. Penick also held community meetings, which Martinello said were sparsely attended.


Hutchins is hopeful that, once completed, the new construction will help Penick serve the community for years to come. “”It is solidifying us for the future as we prepare for the next generation of residents at Penick Village,” he said.


Contact Tom Embrey at