Mall group proposes 36-unit senior housing project

Focus of the facility would be on “easier living”


A group of investors is seeking to build a multi-million dollar, up-market, 36-unit senior housing complex right next to the local mall.

Chris Johnson, representing Shopper’s Mall Ltd., made a presentation to the council of the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain on Wednesday morning, outlining the goals and plans for the ambitious project.

Fellow investor Gwen Tripp accompanied him, and a third investor, Killarney’s mayor Rick Pauls, withdrew from his chair during the presentation, due to his conflict of interest in the proposal.

“We have a project that we are very excited about,” Johnson told council. “It would be for 36 units, located at the north end of Shopper’s Mall. Our goal is to retain and draw in seniors to the area, and we have already had enquiries from up to two hours away. We feel it would be of a large and long-term benefit to the community, so that’s why we would like to see your support on the project.”

A preliminary six-page brochure had been prepared for the council members, showing exterior images of the planned three-storey structure, floor plan layouts, and details about features and amenities.

The complex would be directly connected to the mall on its main floor, and meals would be prepared in the adjacent Blarney Stone Pub and Restaurant’s commercial kitchen.

For approximately $2,500 per month, 31 one-bedroom suites would be available, measuring around 550 square feet. A continental breakfast (with flexible dining times), full lunch, and a supper would be included in the price, and be served up 365 days a year, he said.

Five larger one-bedroom suites, at 600 square feet, would include a full kitchen, while the main floor would incorporate a hair salon, offices, and social areas.

Residents could also pay extra for outdoor parking for vehicles and scooters (with electricity).

And while it is targeted towards seniors, the aim was to keep an open view on residents and their individual needs, he added.

“We don’t want to put an age limit on it,” said Johnson. “We want to put the focus on ‘easier living.’ We are trying to work out a value to (create) a one-cheque per month fee, including everything. We are looking at around $2,400 to $2,500 per month for the full service, for one person. If you add another person to that suite it would be an additional $700 to $800 to cover meal costs. These aren’t exact numbers – we will be evaluating these costs as we go forward.”

The Killarney Place Easy Living Complex, as described on a handout distributed by the investor group, would also include a hotel room on the main floor, available for use by visiting family members for around $90 per night, and featuring two queen beds.

While no nursing staff would be hired for the facility, plans are to have a designated tenant who also operated as a contact person for the residents, said Johnson.

“It will be an independent living-type of situation,” he said. “It would not be a 24-hour care facility.”

Questions over the inclusion of Life-Line and Home Care services for residents also came up, and these would be accommodated, said Johnson.

Timeline for the project was contingent on a number of factors, including some municipal issues with water, sewer, and a lane, plus the need for more investors or financial backing.

“When would we like to start? The sooner the better,” said Johnson. “Our plan is to shop it out to financial institutions for financial investment. We need to hear back from council (on their decision regarding) the lane by the mall, some lots there, and water and sewer that run there which will have to be re-directed. We have been working with a contractor for the construction, and if we go ahead, it would be as soon as they are available. It would be 12 to 14 months to get started, depending on the time of year.”

Killarney Shoppers Mall Inc. also requested some initial tax relief from the municipality for the project, due to the high cost of the investment, and recommended the idea of siting the local Services for Seniors office in the main floor of the building.

Services for Seniors is currently located in temporary rented accommodation on South Railway Street.

Paving of the parking area around the complex would also be sought, as part of a municipal contract, said Johnson.

The facility would be wheelchair accessible, equipped with an elevator, and would include an outdoor patio area, a walk-in tub, weekly housekeeping, and monthly entertainment.

Council, who appeared on the whole to warmly applaud the proposal, agreed to meet afterwards and discuss the project.

Voting by council members, excluding Rick Pauls, due to conflict of interest, will likely take place in a few weeks, in order to decide if the assisted senior housing complex project is to go forward.

“We had an informal meeting to talk about the project,” said deputy mayor Connie Blixhavn the following day. “There is no decision yet, because it has to be discussed in open council. That will possibly be at the next one on June 14. Then we will have an open vote.”

BIRD’S EYE VIEW FOR SENIOR HOUSING RESIDENTS? – This parking lot behind the Blarney Stone Pub and Restaurant could become the location for a three-storey, assisted living seniors’ residence. Shopper’s Mall Ltd. investors are seeking permission to erect a 36-unit complex on the site, which would connect directly to the mall, and meals could be prepared in the adjacent Blarney’s commercial kitchen. Council is voting on the application next month.