Senior housing boom brings investment, jobs, beds to Cedar Rapids

Three proposals promise $47 million investment, 330 units, 170 jobs

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Senior housing plans are booming in Cedar Rapids, but even the surge might not be enough to close a gap in the number of beds still needed.

Developers are proposing more than $47 million in investments, creating 330 new senior units for skilled nursing, memory care and assisted living and more than 170 new jobs in Cedar Rapids. The City Council has given votes of confidence for three projects, which are at various phases of approval.

“We are taking a look, particularly with the projects we are funding and those we are aware of, that we are adequately meeting but not oversaturating the market,” Caleb Mason, a community development specialist, told council members this week.

At least two other senior housing developments are planned outside the Cedar Rapids limits in Linn County.

Proposed in Cedar Rapids:

l The Gardens, 5710 Dean Road SW, a $15 million, 72,000-square-foot retirement community with 40 skilled nursing care units, 12 memory care units and 30 assisted living units, according to a city presentation.

Skilled nursing represents a high level of care, while assisted living has a small level of assistance and memory care targets those with dementia, officials said.

The facility would support $2.5 million in wages annually for 80 new full-time jobs, including 20 meeting the state’s high-quality jobs threshold, which is $20.50 per hour or $43,000 annually. This would be the first new skilled nursing facility in Cedar Rapids since 1992, according to the city.

The City Council passed a resolution of intent to give tax breaks for The Gardens. An early framework calls for a 50-percent tax break for four years, or about $361,200. The property would generate $2.1 million in taxes over 10 years, city memos show.

It could open in July 2017.

l A continuing care/senior living facility in southwest Cedar Rapids, near The Gardens, is in the early stages of a proposal by Hart-Frederick Consultants and Sharp Investments. The city had few details on the project, but a presentation showed 24 memory care units, 60 assisted living units and another 18 units identified as future assisted living.

The City Council has approved the first of three required votes to rezone 6 acres to multifamily use along Stoney Point Road SW south of 16th Avenue SW, which had been used for a golf course before 2014.

l Grand Living, near Lindale Mall and Indian Creek Nature Center grounds on Collins Road SE, is a proposed $33 million, four-story, 192,000-square-foot facility with 164-units for assisted living, independent and memory care clients. The facility would support $3.4 million in annual wages for 85 to 90 full-time jobs, including 12 meeting the high-quality jobs threshold.

The council this week established a tax increment financing district to allow the Grand Living developer, Ryan Companies, to recoup taxes. An early framework calls for a 50-percent tax break for four years, or about $727,000. The property would generate $4.5 million in taxes over 10 years, city memos show.

This project could be completed by early 2018.

Eugenia Kendall, a supervisor at the Heritage Area Agency on Aging, which helps seniors navigate care options, said calls from people seeking assisted living services have increased 75 percent in three years.

“The majority are probably coming from within our community, but certainly there’s a percentage that come from surrounding counties or people whose children are moving them here to be closer to their family,” she said.

AARP ranked Cedar Rapids the No. 7 mid-sized community on its livability index for those 50-plus in 2015.

Mason, with the city, cited a Maxfield Research and Consulting market survey showing that a local gap of 228 assisted living and memory care units in 2015 will grow to 279 units by 2020. The analysis doesn’t consider skilled nursing units, which he called the highest regulated residential units.

“From what we are hearing anecdotally, there is very strong demand for those in the city as well as Linn County generally,” he said.

Linn County has 1,223 skilled nursing and intensive care facility beds but needs 2,041, according to a report by the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals. In 2021, 35,616 people or 15 percent of the county’s population is projected to be 65 years or older.

“The information we have from the Department of Inspection and Appeals report shows there is a need for additional beds in Linn County and the population is projected to be 15 percent, 65 plus by 2021,” said Becky Swift. certificate of need program manager for the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Skilled nursing facilities, which are considered an institutional health service, are regulated by the state. Plans for new ones or changes to existing ones must get a certificate of need from the State Health Facilities Council, Swift said.

Swift said The Gardens, serving southwest Cedar Rapids and Linn County, Benton County and northern Johnson County, and The Views Continuing Care Retirement Communities of Marion, serving northwest Linn County, Jones County and northern Johnson County, received certificates for 40 beds each in February. Continuing Care Retirement Communities of Cedar Rapids in Marion, serving the Cedar Rapids metro and Linn County, received a certificate for 40 skilled nursing beds in October 2015, she said.

Scott Olson, a City Council member and commercial Realtor, said the metro as whole needs another 600 senior housing units. Olson, who serves on the Meth-Wick Community board of directors, said waiting lists persist.

“Most of the studies are coming back saying yes we have a demand, and that there is going to continue to be a strong demand for several years because of our aging numbers,” he said.

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