$13 million Senior Housing Project Planned - St. Augustine Health Ministries

Catholic Charities of Cleveland is planning a $13 to $14 million gem of a senior housing project for the city on Lorain Road.

Officials said Emerald Village, with 130 units for both independent and assisted living, will be located adjacent to the Church of St. Clarence at 30106 Lorain Ave. It will be managed and operated by the St. Augustine Health Campus, which provides a variety of care and services for area seniors. Officials said construction is tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2006.

Mayor Thomas O’Grady said the development will fill a need in the community. “We don’t have a facility like it in North Olmsted, so it is something we definitely can use in the city,” O’Grady said. “There is a growing senior population in our community and the entire Westshore area as well, so this will give them a very attractive option if they want to move into a retirement community from their current homes.”

O’Grady said the city will be happy to work with the developers on the project. Andy Edeburn, a marketing consultant for Health Dimensions Group, the Minneapolis management firm working with Catholic Charities on the project, said it will give many North Olmsted seniors an option they haven’t had previously.

“Because there hasn’t been anything like this in North Olmsted, the seniors in the city have had to move to Westlake or Avon or another western community if they want to stay near North Olmsted,” Edeburn said. “This gives them a way to actually stay in the city if they want.”

Edeburn said the facility will have the best in retirement living with more than 100,000 square feet on three levels. There will be 100 independent living apartments and 30 assisted living apartments. The common areas will include a two-story grand foyer entry, a spacious dining room, café, a chapel, a barber shop/beauty salon, and additional multi-purpose rooms throughout the building. Additional services at Emerald Village will include meals, housekeeping and transportation. The independent apartments will be featured in a variety of floor plans that have one or two bedroom units with ample living space, walk-in closets and full kitchens. Assisted living units will come in both studio and one-bedroom styles.

Edeburn said development officials want to get the project formally approved with the city and move as efficiently as possible. “After we get 50 people signed up with deposits, we can do the groundbreaking,” he said.

Emerald Village Marketing Director Sherry Saunders said the facility is open to anyone and is not limited to people of the Catholic faith or who attended St. Clarence. Pat Gareau, president and CEO of St. Augustine Health Campus, said Emerlad Village will not charge entrance fees. “We wanted to build a retirement community in the North Olmsted area that didn’t require a huge upfront investment for our residents,” Gareau said, noting many retirement communities sometimes charge a one-time entrance fee that can range from $75,000 to $200,000.

Emerald Village will charge a monthly service fee that includes apartment rent, utilities and a range of additional services. “You don’t have to spend an exceptional amount to have an exceptional lifestyle at Emerald Village,” Gareau said.

Saunders said interested individuals are welcome to visit the project’s information center in the the Church of St. Clarence or contact her at 777-9300. The Emerald Village Web site at http://www.emeraldvillage.org also offers additional information. All of the officials cited the work of the Rev. Tom Flynn, pastor emeritus of St. Clarence, in helping get the project idea going years ago. “It’s something that’s been talked about for 10 years or more,” said Michael Gareau Jr., chairman of city council’s building and zoning committee. “It’s been a great concept for a long time. Now, I’m glad to see that its getting going.”

Gareau said in addition to the resources provided by Emerald Village, the location is ideal. “You have access to Lorain Road and transportation if the residents don’t have their own transportation,” Michael Gareau said. “For those of a religious persuasion, it will be right by St. Clarence and there are other resources near it.”

Church officials are also pleased. “I’m delighted to see it after all these years,” Flynn said. “I know people have talked about it and there have been different people interested in doing something but weren’t able too. Now Catholic Charities has developed an impressive project.” Flynn said he knows people are already showing interest in moving in and added it wouldn’t surprise him to see some of his old parishioners at the facility.

The Rev. Neil P. Kookoothe, the church administrator, said having it next door is a natural move. “We are blessed to see Emerald Village begin right next to the Church of St. Clarence campus,” Kookoothe said. “A retirement community is the ideal next step in our growth of a family and community-focused ministry.”

Originally published in the WeSTLIFE newspaper – 20 July 2005