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Keystone Place at Forevergreen to open in 2016

Coming soon to NL: new options for senior living

NORTH LIBERTY– A high demand for senior living options in North Liberty will soon be met.
Developers and investors in the planned Keystone Place at Forevergreen gathered Nov. 21 at 1275 W. Forevergreen Rd., formerly the Colony Country RV Park, to break ground for the new senior living center.
The residential senior care facility will include 124 units, said co-owner Julie Dancer, partner in the development company JTB, LLC, which proposed the project to the North Liberty City Council in July. The three-story building will house 60 independent living units, 40 assisted living units and 24 units designed specially for memory care clients. Keystone Place is a private pay facility, with a monthly service fee.
More important than the physical features of the structure are the ways it will facilitate high quality of life for its residents, including wellness initiatives and a wide variety of activities.
“Everything is designed and built for those purposes,” said Dancer.
For example, an onsite pub will help facilitate social activity and accommodate social events, like tailgate parties, hors d’oeuvres and happy hours, and families hanging out together. Exercise classes and wellness programs will assist residents in meeting their physical and social needs; a juice bar in the fitness center will encourage interactions between residents and staff, and among residents themselves. A salon, library and laundry facilities will increase independence and help maintain regular daily activity for residents. Dining options were also a significant consideration, Dancer added.
“Having a welcoming restaurant feel, where you get really great food with choices for variety and selections, was really important,” Dancer said. Keystone Place will feature gathering spots for a range of activities, including lounges, family visiting areas, and private meeting rooms, as well as a large activity space. Some concierge services will also be offered, as staff will help coordinate the logistics of transportation, maintenance and other services for the residents.
“Many of the features will be duplicated in each area, because sometimes an exercise class is very different for someone who is independent from those who might need memory care,” Dancer said. Outdoors, a courtyard and mindful landscaping will provide places to walk, meet and sit outdoors.
“All the spaces are designed with recreational, cultural and social activities in mind, more than anything,” Dancer said.
The site itself lends a great deal toward that end. The former campground and RV park is beautiful, with mature trees and landscapes, and is adjacent to newer residential neighborhoods with walking trails and ponds.
“This is a great site because it is very accessible off the interstate, and has the convenience of other things nearby, like the mall, a movie theater, restaurants, shopping and medical facilities. Having a grocery store nearby is wonderful for residents,” said Dancer. “It’s just a gorgeous site.”
Architect for the project, Viren Gori, was also on hand for the November groundbreaking. Gori’s firm, Gori and Associates of Minneapolis, has extensive experience with hospitality, multifamily and healthcare projects.
“Naturally, designing a retirement community is a combination of the above three project types,” said Gori. “Designing a building for seniors necessitates not just quality construction complying with stringent building codes, but also creating a community that encourages a sense of well being and social interaction. It is this aspect of senior housing design and the location of the site that drew me to this opportunity in the heartland.”
And it was Gori’s philosophy that drew JTB partners to Gori and Associates.
“It was a selection process,” Dancer said. Gori had worked with management company Keystone Senior on similar projects. “As we interviewed architects, it was clear Viren was very passionate for his work, very experienced in assisted living design and expertise, and his sense of business expertise was important to us. He believes in collaboration, and can visualize this specialized, unique project. Ultimately, you need architects who can design around the end user– the residents and the staff.”
Equally rigorous was JBT’s selection of its management partner, Keystone Senior LLC. The project was conceived more than 18 months ago, and it took Dancer and development partners Tom Lepic and Mike Bails, all of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors, months to vet potential companies to manage the site.
“A huge part of why we chose Keystone Senior as our operating partner was because they are very experienced. What we discovered through our research was that every Keystone property we visited felt like home. There are great people working there, and staff turnover is very low. They genuinely care,” Dancer said.
Residents were very happy in the Keystone communities Dancer and Bails visited, she said, indicating they felt safe and well-cared for, with a number of activities to choose from. And because Keystone Senior has a property in Cedar Rapids that recently celebrated 10 years of operation, the company’s familiarity with Eastern Iowa was also a bonus.
“Most of Keystone’s buildings tend to be full, which is indicative of them practicing great management, and that residents are receiving the care they need and maintaining a high quality of life,” Dancer added.
Dancer has a particular expertise in creating senior communities. She has been involved in start-up, operations and consulting work for 11 senior living projects before this one, so it’s something she feels passionate about.
“Our emphasis is on making sure residents live well and love life,” Dancer said. “We have a commitment to quality care, to create environments that duplicate experiences of the residents’ own homes. We are trying to do everything we can to help that resident maintain dignity, have as much autonomy as possible and help them have the ability to contribute meaningfully within their communities.”
Project bids are due soon, and developers may begin moving dirt yet this winter, weather permitting. Dancer estimated 12 to 15 months of construction before the facility opens in the summer of 2016, but she has already begun taking reservations from future residents.
Contact Dancer at 319-310-5522, or email jdancer@keystonesenior.com for more information.