New senior housing development coming to Coon Rapids Boulevard

A groundbreaking ceremony took place June 12 to launch the senior housing development to be built at the former Frank’s Nursery site on Coon Rapids Boulevard.autumn glen.5by3 b:w JPG

The Autumn Glen senior housing project, which will be managed by Elk River-based Guardian Angels, will include 100 units with 32 set aside for independent living, 36 for assisted living and 32 for memory care as well as both underground and surface parking.

The three-story building will be located on 135,000 square feet of space.

Construction was to begin immediately, according to Mike Schoenecker of Winkelman Building Corporation, St. Cloud, the project’s developer and builder. The Frank’s Nursery building was to be demolished Monday and then the parking lot and other concrete will be torn up, Schoenecker said.

The underground parking will be the first part of the building to go in, he said.

“There will be a one-year construction period,” Schoenecker said.

The site plan for the project was originally approved by the Coon Rapids City Council in August 2011 and that approval was extended for a year in August 2012.

According to Dan Dixon, president and chief executive officer of Guardian Angels, the delay in the project was caused by the need to work through financing issues, lining up investors and going through the banking process.

“We are living in a different world today,” Dixon said.

But since the project was announced, there has been plenty of interest in the senior housing that will be offered, he said.

“We have had 75 people express interest,” Dixon said.

Not all of those expressing interest will ultimately move in once the facility is open, he said.

But there were a good number of seniors at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We are so excited to be moving forward with this project after two years,” Dixon said.

The project will make the site look a lot different, he said.

According to Dixon, Guardian Angels was formed in 1962 as a faith-based, nonprofit organization and is truly ecumenical.

With its facilities in the Elk River area, Guardian Angels provides housing and other services to 2,500 seniors and employs 400 people, Dixon said.

The Coon Rapids facility will employ some 100 people, he said.

According to Mathew Frisbie, president of Frisbie Architects Inc., the project architect, the development will not only clean up a portion of Coon Rapids Boulevard, but the building will offer “a look of warmth.”

“It will be comfortable for the residents and a good place to work for the staff,” Frisbie said.

Representing the city of Coon Rapids, Councilmember Jerry Koch said this was an exciting project for the city, continuing the redevelopment at the west end of Coon Rapids Boulevard, where the Allina Health medical building and the new North Suburban Eye Specialists clinic are currently under construction.

Koch hoped that these projects would be an impetus for further redevelopment along the boulevard to the east, he said.

The goal of the council is to make Coon Rapids a great place to live, work and play for people of all ages, according to Koch.

The city has a reputation of taking special care of its seniors through the programs offered at Coon Rapids Senior Center, Koch said.

The City Council has approved a $420,000 grant through tax increment financing for the $19 million project.

That money will be used to pay for demolition of the Frank’s Nursery building and other site preparation work necessary before construction of Autumn Glen can begin, according to Matt Brown, Coon Rapids community development specialist.

Winkelman Building Corporation has completed several senior housing developments in Minnesota, including projects in Forest Lake, Lonsdale, Olivia, Owatonna and Willmar.

Guardian Angels’ first project was a senior care center in Elk River offering skilled nursing care.

Now, it also has assisted living facilities, memory care suites, subsidized and market rate senior housing, an active adult cooperative, adult day services, home health care and hospice care at various locations in Elk River plus facilities in Becker and Zimmerman.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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