Eagle’s Castle Peak Senior Care planning moves to money

Project will need approximately $4.4 million in private donations

The land deal is done, the zoning is in place and the architects are at work.

But the big question remains — will the dollars materialize to build the proposed Castle Peak Senior Care Community in Eagle?

Tuesday the Eagle County Commissioners met in executive session with staff members who are involved in the project to discuss the “funding gap” that exists for the project along with various other legal issues involving the proposed senior care project.

The Castle Peak Senior Care Community represents a partnership between Eagle County and Augustana Care, a Minnesota-based firm that develops and operates such projects throughout the nation. The county has purchased a 5-acre a site at Eagle Ranch — located north of Brush Creek Elementary School at the Capitol Street/Sylvan Lake Road T-intersection — where the proposed center will be located.

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The proposed first phase of the project would include 64 beds. That breaks down as 22 skilled nursing units, 20 assisted living units, 12 memory care units and 10 transitional care/rehabilitation units. The team assembled for the Castle Peak plan have indicated that breakdown is a modest beginning that their research indicates would be successful.

But even with the modest start, the Castle Peak plan will be pricey — to the tune of approximately $24 million. For its part, the county has committed $6 million toward the project. The money is coming from the county’s Lake Creek Village apartments assets. The county’s initial expenditure was $1.6 to purchase the Eagle Ranch location. Augustana has pledged an additional $1 million toward construction.

The Castle Peak project is pursuing a $12 million loan from the federal government what will be paid over a 40-year term through revenues generated at the care facility. During an open session preceding the executive session yesterday, Eagle County Housing Director Jill Klosterman noted the loan proposal is currently under review at the state level and initial indications are positive for its approval. Once it is approved by the state, the loan package will go on to the federal level.

But even with a $12 million loan and $7 million in committed financing, the Castle Peak project will need to raise an additional $4.4 million from the local community. Eagle County Commissioner Jon Stavney noted the fund-raising part of the project is important on a couple of levels. First, Augustana’s financial models have indicated that $12 million is the maximum amount of debt the project can carry in order to keep fees reasonable for potential patients. Additionally, he noted the federal government wants to seek local buy-in for the project.

Klosterman noted that Augustana is heading up the capital campaign to meet the $4.4 million funding gap. The company is already at work assembling a capital campaign committee and approaching potential donors.

“There is always a silent phase of any campaign before it goes public,” said Klosterman. “We all feel dedicated and hopeful we can fully meet the funding gap.”

Market research

Last week the county commissioners received copies of the latest market feasibility study for the Castle Peak Senior Care Community. The study was compiled by MDS Research Company Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas. The Texas firm’s study was actually a review of the market feasibility study initially conducted for the project.

The review indicated that the project research to date has been comprehensive and that there is a demonstrated need for a senior care facility in the area. However, the MDS analysis states the annual income threshold of $35,000 projected for Castle Peak residents may be too low. Klosterman noted that the project model takes into account that local seniors will likely have additional assets such as a home or retirement funds that will augment their annual income to afford care at the facility. Additionally, she pointed out that the Castle Peak building plan is conservative, with only 64 beds planned when demographics show Eagle County’s aging population growth would support a larger facility.

“I really feel like we are being risk adverse,” said Klosterman.

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