More senior housing is the goal of a proposed expansion project at Prince of Peace Retirement Living in the 300 block of Glen Street Southwest, Hutchinson.
“We’re looking at closing and breaking ground on about Nov. 1,” said Prince of Peace executive director Merline Duering, who spoke to the Hutchinson City Council during its Sept. 24 meeting.
The project would include 11 new apartment units and 14 garages and would cost approximately $3.5 million. The facility is requesting tax-exempt financing through the city. A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22.
“Tax-exempt financing provides the lowest interest rates for this project,” said city finance director Andy Reid. “But unfortunately nonprofits like Prince of Peace can’t issue tax-exempt debt directly, so they rely on the city to be the conduit to issue that debt.”
It’s important to note that conduit debt wouldn’t obligate the city in any way, according to Reid, and Prince of Peace would be the sole entity paying the bond debt. The only impact the city would feel is the annual $10 million bank qualification, which wouldn’t be a problem, according to Reid.
“We’ll be well under that with our other bonding projects,” he said. “The only thing we’ll have to do from a city standpoint is include a footnote in our audit report each year.”
The city previously provided conduit financing to Ecumen for projects at the Oaks and Pines facility in 2006. Reid proposed a $12,000 fee to reimburse the city for project costs and staff time for the Prince of Peace project, which is the same amount that was collected during the Oaks and Pines project.
“That amount is more than adequate to cover our costs here with this deal,” he said.
A 20-unit expansion for the retirement facility was proposed back in 2014, but that project was scrapped because construction bids were more expensive than anticipated, according to Duering.
The ultimate goal, she said, is to make the expansion look like it was always a part of the building. She also said the facility has consistently outperformed the national occupancy rate, which is currently at 85 percent, by having a 97 percent occupancy rate.
“We have waiting lists that will actually — if everyone on that list moved in it would be full in nine months,” Duering said.
The housing facility’s mission is independent living, and with that comes the need for garage space.
“What happened is two generations ago when they built it there were still people coming in who had never driven in their life,” Duering said. “Now I have couples coming in with both of them having cars, where people who are driving a lot longer. So garages were definitely a consideration.”
“I have more people who are current residents than I’ve ever had before who are still waiting for garages,” she added.