Shakopee's newest senior housing development won't be open for more than a year, but there's already a waiting list.
"I often get calls from people looking for housing who are in that 55-plus range," said Samantha DiMaggio, Shakopee's economic development coordinator. "And I've had some frustration from people in the community not being able to find enough housing."
As the senior citizen population increases statewide, the growing city is making plans to accommodate residents as they age.
The Henderson, an apartment building planned for the former St. Mary's school site near downtown Shakopee, will be the city's third senior housing development. Unlike the existing two, it'll include both independent and assisted living.
Shakopee doesn't have any combined independent and assisted living facilities and has lost aging residents to other cities because of it, said Bill Jaffa, executive director of Scott County's Community Development Agency.
The 55-unit apartment building will be split into about two-thirds independent living and one-third assisted living, with some flexibility for residents to move between them. The facility won't offer intensive care — for residents with dementia, for example — but those in assisted living will have access to meals, nursing, laundry services and other basic assistance.
Shakopee has a higher number of aging residents than most south metro cities. Recent census data show about 20 percent of residents living in the neighborhood near downtown Shakopee are age 65 or older.
"When a senior kind of gets to this point … that decision comes up and it's, 'What's available?' " project coordinator Steve Dunbar said. "And I think the majority of people want to stay in their community."
The Henderson is set to be built on a street lined with trees and old houses, just across from the Church of St. Mary.
Construction will require a zoning change to allow for senior housing to be built in the neighborhood, and there have been some questions from residents about the impact of the relatively large development.
But there's also a lot of support. The church owns the land where The Henderson will be built, and parishioners have been requesting units for the past two years, said Dan Wilson of Wilson Development Services, the property acquisition firm involved in the project.
"This is my neighborhood," committee member Deb Barber said. "I think it'll fit in the neighborhood very nicely, actually."