St. John’s gets nod to build new complex

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

St. John’s Lutheran Home in Albert Lea has received the go-ahead from the state commissioner of health to move 84 of the beds at its current site to a proposed senior campus on the former Albert Lea Golf Club property.

Nursing Home Administrator Scot Spates said Tuesday there are roughly 350 nursing homes throughout the state, and St. John’s is one of 14 nursing homes whose project was approved.

With the approval in place, the nursing home is moving ahead toward construction this fall, with an anticipated move-in date in January 2015.

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Plans include not only a new nursing home but also an assisted-living complex and an independent-living complex, all joined by a town center, which offers services including an activity room and chapel, a barber and beauty shop, a coffee shop, a technology center and a fitness center, to name a few. There will also be owner-occupied duplexes. The campus will overlook Edgewater Bay.

“There are no other projects like this happening in Minnesota right now,” said Spates. “It will be one of the nicest senior campuses in the state of Minnesota.”

Seventy-nine licensed beds would stay at the current site east of Minnesota Highway 13 and would be moved at a date unknown at this time, he said.

Spates said the construction of the nursing home and the town center itself are estimated to cost $13 million. He declined to give the estimated cost of the full project.

It is likely construction would begin on these two buildings first with construction of the assisted living and independent living buildings to follow. The owner-occupied duplexes would be built right after the four larger buildings are completed.

St. John’s purchased the 51 acres of former golf course — known by many Albert Leans as “the back nine” — in December 2010 from American Bank of St. Paul for $7,200 per acre. The land had been in the hands of the bank after it was surrendered by commercial developer Scott LaFavre following the property’s foreclosure. LaFavre bought the club in 2006 and closed it, to the dismay of many members.

Spates said the nursing home will be at the west end of the property and will be a three-story building, with 28 people living on each floor. The main level will provide short-term or transitional care.

The building is designed so that smaller groups of patients share kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms. He said the new design will allow staff to better provide care to patients.

The organization’s building committee has been meeting monthly with the project’s architect and each week more is getting developed

Spates said there are already 14 people on a waiting list who have expressed interest in the new senior complex.

“I think it will be a draw for seniors into the community,” he said.