A new 10-unit apartment complex for seniors opened this fall in Sterling and is now half full. The options for senior housing continue to expand on the central peninsula as the the area's average age for residents continues to advance.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
As more and more senior citizens choose the Kenai Peninsula as the place to spend their sunset years, their increasing housing needs are being met, and their choices are becoming more varied.
Whether seniors desire adult community condominium settings or senior housing apartments or they require full-time skilled nursing assistance, such facilities can be found.
Earlier this month, a 10-unit apartment building opened next to the Sterling Senior Citizen Center in that community. The communities of Cooper Landing and Nikiski are seeking to build similar facilities and the city of Kenai operates a senior apartment building and seeks to build an assisted-living center.
In Soldotna, the options also include higher-end condominiums at Mountain Rose Estates, which opened in August, and the skilled-nursing facility, Heritage Place.
The new building in Sterling is half full already, according to Judy Warren, director of the Sterling Senior Center.
She said when the facility was under construction, 15 seniors were on the waiting list, but some of the applicants' needs changed, some moved away and some died.
"We have five apartments filled and five available," Warren said Wednesday.
The facility offers either one-bedroom units at $675 per month or two-bedroom apartments for $750 a month. Both styles of rentals include utilities.
The Sterling center also is planning a second 10- to 12-apartment building to be built just south of the one that opened this month.
"I'm anticipating that it will be two years before construction begins," Warren said.
She also said the senior center's five- to 10-year plan includes two townhouses being built for older adults as well as an assisted-living facility for about 20 people.
Senior Connections, the fund-raising arm of the Kenai Senior Citizens Center, has received a pre-development grant to build a 20-unit assisted-living center for adults who are 60 years or older.
"We're looking to find a 10-acre tract of land," said Rachael Craig, director of the Kenai Senior Citizen Center.
Craig said the facility would provide assistance with such needs as taking proper dosages of medicine, doing laundry and helping with meals.
"The assistance is not that as extensive as the care given in a nursing home," Craig said.
Bill "Hutch" Hutchinson of Freedom Reality talks about how homes in Mountain Rose Estates are designed with senior citizens in mind.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The city of Kenai also offers 40 senior housing units at Vintage Point, which is operated through the city, Craig said.
A lakeside housing facility for seniors is planned for the Nikiski area. A six-acre plot of land on Marie Lake was donated for the purpose by two longtime members of the Nikiski Senior Citizens Center, Jim and Nedra Evenson.
Plans call for building between six and 11 handicapped-accessible units where older adults can live independently in the company of other seniors.
The idea behind the complex is to provide housing for those seniors who want to downsize from a house to an apartment, yet remain in Nikiski.
Cooper Landing is in the planning stages of an independent senior-citizen housing facility as well.
Working with an Alaska Housing Finance Corporation $660,000 grant, the Cooper Landing Senior Citizens Corporation Inc. is looking to build a six-unit building about 1 1/2 miles up Snug Harbor Road, according to President Chuck Young.
He said the group had been proceeding with plans for a facility in the Russian Gap Subdivision east of Cooper Landing but was unsuccessful in locating suitable water at that site.
The new site, with its different shape and contours will probably require new architectural plans, Young said.
"We're hopeful that if everything works out and we get a roadway built to the site, we could start foundation work before next winter," he said.
Plans call for four two-bedroom and two one-bedroom apartments.
For seniors with a healthy budget, Mountain Rose Estates in Soldotna offers active adult condominium living in single-family and duplex-style homes.
Eighteen homes have been built in Phase 1 of the project and 14 already have been occupied, according to Dorothy Smith, co-owner of D.G. Smith Builders, general contractor of Rosemont Corp., which developed Mountain Rose.
Priced between $147,000 for the smaller two-bedroom, two-bath duplex and $206,000 for the single-family stand alone homes, the condominiums also require payment of monthly condo fees ranging from $135 to $175 depending on size.
Smith said development already is complete on Phase 2, but building will not start until two or more houses are sold.
In all, the development will include four phases along Little Street off Kobuk Street.
When asked whether couples with children could move into Mountain Rose Estates, Smith said, "If the condominium association approved it, such as in a hardship case where a grandchild needed a place to live, people could bring a child to live there.
"The typical rule is that a child could come to live there for a maximum of three months, other than in a hardship," she said.
Also offered in Soldotna is Heritage Place, a 60-bed, skilled-nursing facility.
Although people need not be seniors to live there, the majority of Heritage Place residents are older adults, according to Josh Jensen, finance director.
Some reasons people move to Heritage Place include the inability of a family to continue caring for the person at home, the need for rehabilitation after an injury or illness, or the fact that the person can no longer care for himself or herself at home.
Each resident at Heritage Place has a personal attending physician and the facility is staffed by registered nurses and certified nursing assistants who perform day-to-day care, such as feeding and clothing residents, Jensen said.
If residents meet certain requirements, their stay at Heritage Place can be paid through Medicaid, Medicare and some private insurance, according to Jensen.
He said other skilled-nursing facilities on the peninsula are located in Homer and Seward.
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