Minnetonka council approves plans for apartment building for seniors

Havenwood will offer range of care options for individuals 55 and up

A design example what the outdoor space by the front entrance could look like (Photo courtesy of City of Minnetonka) A design that shows what Havenwood, a senior housing apartment building, will look like. (Photo from eminnetonka.com) A design example of how a club room might look (Photo courtesy of City of Minnetonka) A design example of how a library might look (Photo courtesy of City of Minnetonka) A design example of a how a bistro might look (Photo courtesy of City of Minnetonka) A design example of how a wellness center might look (Photo courtesy of City of Minnetonka) A design example of how a dining room might look (Photo courtesy of City of Minnetonka)
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A design that shows what Havenwood, a senior housing apartment building, will look like. (Photo from eminnetonka.com)

The Minnetonka City Council approved the final site and building plans for Havenwood, a senior living community at 17710 and 17724 Old Excelsior Blvd., at an Aug. 28 meeting.

The three-story building will be located near the intersection of Excelsior Boulevard and County Road 101. There will be 97 units, which will be a combination of independent and assisted living, memory care and extended care. Future tenants are required to be at least 55 years of age.

The project is expected to begin construction on or before Nov. 1.

The building, at just under 36,000 square feet, will sit on approximately 2.5 acres of land near the mix of retail, offices and single-family homes in the Highway 7 and County Road 101 area.

“There are a number of things happening on a relatively tight site,” said City Planner Loren Gordon. “This is not what I would call a suburban piece of property. It’s trying to fit within the character of the village center, which is more dense than other areas of the city.”

Although city staffers acknowledged that it would be a tight fit, the general consensus was that the high-density residence would fit positively into the surrounding area because it would allow many nearby amenities for seniors.

Della Kolpin, senior partner at the real estate developer Mesaba Capital, noted easy access to grocery stores, medical options, volunteer opportunities at nearby schools and 12 churches within a 2-mile radius.

“This site brings many great attributes to a senior housing community. It’s centered at a major intersection. The commercial node itself has so many amenities for the senior residents there,” Kolpin said.

Havenwood will also offer onsite common areas, including a dining room, commercial kitchen, community rooms, coffee shop, bistro, wellness center, library and theater. The fitness center, while open to the public, will have equipment that is specifically designed for people ages 55 and up.

Residents will also be able to spend time outdoors. The site will have a garden with walking paths that have a “northern feel.” Trails along the west side of the building will connect to a public sidewalk to be put in along the frontage of Old Excelsior Boulevard.

The developer’s outdoor plan garnered support from the council.

“Getting outside, a little fresh air, means a lot. I appreciate the attention to that. Obviously, it’s an asset to the community,” said Councilmember Patty Acomb.

As for the street view along Old Excelsior Boulevard, Mesaba Capital and the city have worked together to create a natural feel that has some visual appeal. Kolpin said that might include plants such as wildflowers, perennials, grasses and evergreen trees.

The developer will partner with Walker Methodist, a faith-based, not-for-profit housing manager and operator that specializes in lifestyle, housing and healthcare for older adults.

“Our belief is that when you move into a senior living community, life doesn’t stop. It’s just a new segment of life,” said Annaliese Peterson, Walker Methodist’s vice president of operations.

Walker Methodist already owns, operates and manages 12 senior housing communities in the greater Twin Cities area. So far, their westernmost location is in Edina, but Peterson said there has been demand for one farther west.

“We already have individuals in the west metro that express interest in living in our communities, but we don’t have something closer to home for them, so we find this a really natural fit,” she said.

According to Peterson, seniors who move into a community tend to stay throughout the aging process and have priority access move along the continuum of care.

Between independent and assisted living, there will be 72 units—consisting of studios and one- and two-bedrooms units that operate on month-to-month leases.

The independent living option offers limited services, but access to all amenities and maintenance-free living—“somebody to do all that yardwork, clean, take care of those things,” said Peterson.

If a resident chooses to transition from independent to assisted living, he or she can remain in the same apartment because the two care options do not operate in separate wings.

The assisted living option provides nursing care, housekeeping and prepared meals as needed with a focus on the aspects of wellness, particularly fitness.

Twenty-four memory care units will be available for seniors with memory loss and other forms of dementia.

Lastly, an extended care suite—one unit split into five studios apartments with a shared living area—is designed for individuals who need closer supervision or are on hospice care. Its resident to staff ratio of five to one is one of the best in the state, according to Peterson.

“It can be an alternate for those that maybe a nursing home would be a placement for them, which can allow them to stay in their community a little bit longer,” she said.

Another option, transitional care, gives older adults a place to recover from hospitalizations or surgeries before returning home.

The project is made possible by a $25 million capital investment. Walker Methodist does not receive funding from subsidies.

Because of this, the apartments rent at market rate. However, seniors who need financial help may qualify for the elderly waiver, a Medicaid program administered through the state and county for seniors who live in a community-based setting.

But not just anyone can sign up to live at a Walker Methodist community through the elderly waiver program. Priority housing is given to individuals who have lived there for three or more years.

“We don’t have open access. We really reserve [the elderly waiver option] for individuals who are in our community already and have needs that have maybe outspent their funds. This usually happens organically as individuals age in our communities,” Peterson explained.

Project plans have gone back and forth between the council, planning commission and neighborhood meetings since November 2016, but this time the council wrote off on it unanimously.

“I’m totally on board and excited to have this,” said Councilmember Tim Bergstedt.

More information can be found at eminnetonka.com.

Contact Sabina Badola at [email protected]