Construction underway on medical complex at Northland Drive
By BETH ALTENA
A new assisted living facility, including a memory care wing, will open in Rockford in Plainfield Township in 2014, filling an underserved need in this area. According to Lindsey Haley, Operations Manager for Leisure Living, Rockford and other small towns are usually underserved for assisted living needs and people often have to go to the nearest large city to receive those services.
“This will allow people to stay in Rockford, have their visitors, have the same doctors, remain part of the community where they live,” she said. She said the facility is unique in including the memory care unit as part of the initial construction because research showed a high need for such services. “Our buildings tend to fill fast,” Haley noted. She said the facility is larger than those the company usually builds, with 44 units compared to an average 26 in phase one.
The groundbreaking for Boulder Creek Assisted Living took place on Monday, August 19 at the corner of Seven Mile and Northland Drive with representatives from Leisure Living, Plainfield Township, Omega Construction and others participating in the project.
The $3.3 million dollar construction is just one part of a complex of medical services that will be offered on the site. In the planning for several years, the complex proposal received approval as an appropriate use for the unusual site, which abuts a residential neighborhood.
In 2006 a proposed Family Fare grocery store, office park and all-night gas station were proposed for the property but was aggressively opposed by neighbors who worried about traffic on Seven Mile and lights and activity at the all-night gas station.
This portion of the medical complex will be a 40,000 square foot one-story building in brick and vinyl with additional units to be built in phase two as the market dictates. Neil Kraay,
Chairman and COO of Leisure Living Management, stated that the company has been working closely with Plainfield Township over the past two years.
“We are excited to be at this point,” he said. With two other planned health-based facilities planned for the site, the assisted living portion will fit well with the other uses.
“It [the property] is going to be a health park,” said Kraay. “In front of us Mercy Health is taking the right hand side of the property next to the MDOT lot, and another medical facility still in the planning and marketing abutting Northland Drive.
The company has a business relationship with Baruch Senior Ministries, a non-profit organization that last December bought Bishop Hills Elder Care Community in Rockford. Operating in Michigan only, Leisure Living manages 22 for-profit and 12 not-for-profit senior care facilities.
Haley said the relationship with Bishop Hills and Mercy Health are additional reasons why this location is ideal for the new facility. She said Bishop Hills does not have a memory care specialization, so residents there will have a near-by option if their needs change.
With an estimated opening date of June or July in 2014, the facility will provide about 50 jobs from dietary specialists, housekeeping, maintenance, life enrichment and care giving, jobs Haley described as “wide ranging” employment opportunities. Leisure Living owns eight acres of the property, with the footprint of the phase one taking up three acres.
Kraay said other facilities have phase two and three additions as need is recognized. “It costs a little more to build in phases, but it allows us to be more responsive to market conditions,” he said. He said time will tell what amenities are needed, whether it be more units in memory care or larger or more units in assisted living.
“Plainfield Township has been very good to work with, very supportive. They see a need for this in the area,” said Kraay. “Rockford itself is a very exciting community, as is Cannon Township. We believe that whole area has been underserved.”
Frank Miceli, of Omega Construction Company, the builder for the project, said actual work began several weeks ago. “We put the first spade in the ground about two weeks ago,” he said. “Only it wasn’t a spade it was an excavator.”
Kraay said the facility is the first of its kind with both assisted care and memory care built into phase one. “This will be a showpiece for us.”