A senior housing project on the long-vacant Kmart site in Faribault, stalled since 2016, will wait another year. Approved in 2006, the Faribault Senior Living Center project proposed by Cave Creek Development originally included an assisted living center, a 60-unit apartment building, townhomes, and a small commercial (convenience) center. Only the assisted living center was completed before the 2008 recession put the planned unit development (PUD) on hold.
Developers seemed ready to go again in 2016, with revised plans for townhome rental units and two new senior apartment buildings. When financing fell through, city officials approved the first of several extensions for filing required documents. In January, Periscope Faribault LLC partners unveiled plans for the Faribault Senior Project, 60 assisted living and memory care units to be built next to Faribault Senior Living. At that time, a market study supported demand for that type of facility. The apartments would serve low- and moderate-income seniors, with the total project cost around $12.5 million. However, partners said, new regulations for assisted living and memory care facilities would likely increase costs.
Project partner John Cameron told city councilors Tuesday that his company still needs more time. He said banks remain reluctant to finance because occupancy rates remain low across the community. That’s largely a result of the pandemic, which hit nursing homes and assisted living facilities particularly hard. “We don’t know where the overall market is going,” Cameron said. “We are seeing occupancy rates come back, but they’re not where they were.” Other challenges related to the pandemic include staffing and the public’s general comfort level with senior facilities. “We think that’s on a positive trend, but as we approach lenders… they kind of asked us to wait,” Cameron said. “They’d like occupancy throughout the community to show increased demand.” “My expectation is we’ll all grow through this,” he added. “We just need a little more time.”
Councilor Tom Spooner, who voted against the extension, said people ask him more often about the former Kmart site than any other property in the city. He said the council may need to send a message to the developer that it’s time to build something else on the site. “Can you give me some hope?” he asked Cameron.