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, Star Tribune

Hot commerical property: Westwood Ridge expansion

  • October 25, 2011 - 11:22 AM

WESTWOOD RIDGE EXPANSION

1 West Thompson Av., West St. Paul

Type: Senior housing rentals

Units: 71

Size: 85,000 square feet

Cost: $18 million

Developer: Walker Methodist

Details: Minneapolis-based senior health care and housing provider Walker Methodist has broken ground on an expansion project at its Westwood Ridge campus in West St. Paul.

The new senior housing building is going up on a vacant plot next to the nonprofit's 187,000-square-foot facility atop a hill not far from the Robert Street shopping district in the Dakota County suburb.

Walker Methodist spokesman Nick Kozel said the new structure will include 37 transitional care units, 24 memory care units and 10 care suites.

"Westwood Ridge has been a fixture in West St. Paul for decades," he said. "People call it 'the castle on the hill' and aspire to live there.

"So it's been very successful and has great name recognition, but consumer choices change -- and we saw an opportunity to build an entire campus there with a full 'continuum of care' that would work for anybody in the neighborhood."

The 71-unit expansion, he added, will cater to the tastes and demands of baby boomers, who expect much more from senior housing than previous generations did. Gourmet food will be on the menu, as will common spaces such as a fitness center "purpose-built" for the boomer audience, Kozel said.

The expansion follows a pattern of senior housing developers moving to expand well-sited but stand-alone assisted living facilities into campuses that feature the continuum of care concept, in which residents can move from independent living apartments to units that include higher levels of medical care as needed.

It will have a two-story wing plus three single-story ones, according to plans filed with the city.

The city financed the project through issuance of $18.5 million in tax-exempt health care facility revenue bonds, proceeds of which were loaned to Walker Methodist. The nonprofit will repay the bonds through proceeds from the facility with West St. Paul and its residents at no financial risk, according to city documents.

DON JACOBSON

Don Jacobson, a freelance writer based in St. Paul, can be contacted at hotproperty.startribune@gmail.com.

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