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Meadows to expand

WORTHINGTON -- Residents of the Meadows may soon have quite a few new friends.

Pending September approval by Worthington's planning and zoning commission and city council, workers will break ground on a 43-unit addition to the assisted-living complex in early October, said architect Mark Baum of Pope Associates.

Ecumen, the Meadows' parent company, made the decision to expand after a third-party study revealed a need for more assisted-living housing in the area.

"They want to live in housing that feels like home," said Tom Opatz, director of real estate development at Ecumen, "That's really the beauty of the project; they can pick a unit and stay there."

The three-story addition will connect to the existing two-story building via walkway. Remodeling in the existing building will create three new units, and the addition will provide 40 more units ranging in size from 596 to 990 square feet.

All units will feature a deck or patio, kitchen and living area connected to one bedroom, one bedroom with a den or two bedrooms. Residents will also have a central dining room, lounge and activity room.

Though Baum said the décor will likely be similar to that of the current facility, a few changes are in the works. Currently, only residents with two-bedroom units can opt to have a washer and dryer, but in the addition, a laundry area will come standard in all units. The building's heating and cooling system will be more energy efficient, and windows will lift instead of slide. Opatz said the building will also feature QuietCare, a system of wireless sensors that tracks a resident's daily activities and reports any abnormalities to caregivers and family members.

Pat Henderschiedt, housing manager at The Meadows, said she predicts the addition may draw a slightly different type of resident.

"I anticipate some of our residents will be a little more independent, we'll look for some of them to be younger and more active. Now they are asking me questions about 'Is there a place to store their bike?' and 'Will they be able to get to the YMCA?' The average age of our residents now is about 90; they don't ask those types of questions," she said.

Opatz agreed, saying that while he believes new residents may be more active, the facility will be designed to offer them increasing services as they age. Like the current facility, workers in the addition will offer optional assistance with meals, medications, laundry, and other daily needs. The building should take about a year to complete and will also create about 13 full-time positions.