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Building new life in same old place

Facility lets Nikiski seniors continue lives without moving from hometown

Posted: Friday, April 07, 2006

New doors may be opening soon for Nikiski senior citizens who have longed to live out their years in the same place they’ve lived for much of their life.

The construction phase of a project to build housing facilities for seniors in the Nikiski area begins with a groundbreaking ceremony today at 10:30 a.m.

“It’s a beautiful natural setting on a lake with woods all around,” said Leigh Hagstrom-Sanger, program administrator for the Nikiski Senior Citizens Center.

The setting she was referring to is the land the units will be built on: six-plus acres on Marie Lake off of Holt-Lamplight Road. The land was donated by longtime Nikiski senior center members Jim and Nedra Evenson — part of the 160 acres they homesteaded in 1958.

The first phase of the project entails construction of eight handicap-accessible units in two four-plex buildings with either one or two bedrooms. The construction of more units is planned for the future.

“These are not assisted-living facilities,” Hagstrom-Sanger said , rather, “they are independent living facilities where seniors can live in the company of others (of similar age).”

According to Hagstrom-Sanger, these facilities are needed in Nikiski, an area where facilities of this type are lacking.

“We have an aging population of people, some that have been here for many years, and they don’t want to keep up with big houses and yards. They want to downsize without having to move to Kenai or Soldotna. They want to stay where they’ve always lived,” she said.

“I already have a waiting list with 23 individuals and couples waiting to move in,” she said.

Prospective tenants won’t have to wait long to move in. Construction of these facilities — designed by the Bezek Durst Seiser architectural firm and being built by Sundance Construction Company — is expected to take less than a year.

“Once they get going, and provided they don’t hit any snags, they should be finished in eight months,” Hagstrom-Sanger said.

Once completed, the units will be rented for fair market value.

The total project is expected to cost $1,688,896, with the funding coming largely from grants and loans from the Alaska Housing and Finance Corporation and the Denali Commission.

Today’s groundbreaking ceremony will be attended by Nikiski senior center board members, long-term planning committee members, local dignitaries and others. It is open to the general public.



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