Country Manor plans St. Joseph senior living facility

Jenny Berg, jberg@stcloudtimes.com 6:15 a.m. CDT April 13, 2016

St. JOSEPH — Construction could begin as early as July on a $16 million to $19 million senior living facility planned for a parcel of land near Kennedy Community School.

Representatives from County Manor Campus, a senior living campus in Sartell, presented preliminary plans to St. Joseph Planning Commission on Monday.

"It really starts the whole planning process for this area," said Judy Weyrens, St. Joseph city administrator.

The proposed development, planned in three phases, included a combination of apartments with underground parking, memory care and related units such as a rehabilitation center, and patio homes. Plans also include a chapel, restaurant, bistro, general store with in-house coffee shop, library, art gallery and veranda.

The project's first phase includes building about 24 memory care units and 60 independent senior living apartments.

Country Manor has purchased approximately 130 acres off of College Avenue South, west of Kennedy Community School. The property was formerly owned by Arcon Development Inc., which purchased the land about a decade ago — before the housing crash, according to Weyrens.

The original planned unit development for the site included single-family houses, townhouses and apartments. The updated plan for the senior living campus is less dense, Weyrens said.

"The environmental impact is much less," she said of the new plans.

The first phase of the proposed County Manor project

The first phase of the proposed County Manor project in St. Joseph includes about 24 memory care units and 60 apartments. Patio homes are shown east of the main buildings.

The presentation for the Planning Commission was the first step in a long process, Weyrens said. The next step would be to approve a preliminary plat and planned unit development. St. Joseph City Council also needs to authorize an environmental review, which Weyrens expects officials to do at an upcoming meeting.

The environmental review is estimated to take about 30 to 60 days. Weyrens said she expects the preliminary plat to be seen by the Planning Commission before the end of May, but noted it cannot be approved until the environmental review is complete.

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The city has asked Stearns County to consider tax abatement for the project. Weyrens said the city is unable to use tax-increment financing for the project, but Weyrens said she expects the city and developer to resubmit a tax abatement request with updated plans in the coming weeks.

County Manor began as a 64-bed nursing facility more than 45 years ago. It has grown to become a 25-acre campus in Sartell with a full-service restaurant and bar, private suites, a wellness center, three full-service salons and spas, a convenience store and pharmacy, child care center, chapel and bank.

Weyrens said there is high demand for aging housing in St. Joseph. The site's aesthetic qualities made it appealing to the developers, who plan to preserve many of the trees and other natural features,

Weyrens said. "(Country Manor is) as much about quality of life as quality care," Weyrens said. "One of the reasons they liked the site is because of all the natural amenities offered."

A light pole sits at the edge of the land for a proposed $16 million to $19 million Country Manor senior living facility location along College Avenue South Tuesday, April 12, in St. Joseph.

Officials from Country Manor Campus stated in the news release they are eager to work on the St. Joseph project.

"St. Joseph is a dynamic and growing city and Country Manor officials are eager to be provided the opportunity to share their philosophy and resources in a community so highly respected," the release states.