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Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015

Wanted: new owners

Thursday, July 10, 2008

CFountain Place is in search of a new owner in hopes of gaining assisted living services in the facility.

"We just need to grow," said Jim Herbst, CEO of Fountain Place.

In hopes of gaining new ownership, the Fountain Place Board of Directors has hired Marcus and Millichap, a commercial real estate investment firm based out of Chicago, to find a new owner. The firm specializes in the sale of senior housing assets.

"They're a very positive group," Herbst said. "They've done their homework and have a plan on how to market the facility across the country."

Fountain Place opened in 2001 after its founding by seven area churches -- Cherokee Village United Methodist Church, Cherokee Village Lutheran Church, Peace Lutheran Church, Spring River Presbyterian Church, Cherokee Village First Baptist Church, St. Andrews Episcopal Church and St. Michael's Catholic Church. Each church provides two members for the Fountain Place Board of Directors for the facility which offers independent living by way of 27 apartments in the Cherokee Village facility.

"It provides our senior seniors with a place to live where they can be independent but be taken care of without having to move in with their kids or back where they came from," Herbst said.

The facility provides an apartment, laundry services, three meals a day, transportation and all utilities with the exception of phone service.

Although the facility serves an important need in the area, the board thinks there is another need not being met locally -- assisted living.

Herbst, who has been involved with the facility about four years, said the primary reason the facility needs a new owner is to be able to offer assisted living units.

"I think that's what we need the most," he said, adding that Sharp County can have up to a 150-bed facility.

Not only would an assisted living facility provide the services the board currently provides its residents but it would also provide 24-hour medical care.

Managing Director Sandy Hooker said in the past there had been discussion about partnering with three local hospitals to provide assisted living; however, nothing has come to fruition.

Hooker said many people are interested in moving into Fountain Place until they realize assisted living is not offered as part of the services. The residents can hire outside help to come in and assist them, but it is costly.

Herbst said the board has an extensive amount of money invested in Fountain Place but not enough capital to grow. He said the board has enough money to survive on a monthly basis.

The facility is not reimbursed by insurance. Instead it is private pay but is still a nonprofit corporation.

The corporation receives most of its income from the monthly rents. The remaining amount is received through fundraisers such as the Tommy Bolt Golf Classic. All of the funds generated are put back into the facility.

Rent varies from $1,000 to $2,000 a month based on the size of the apartment. The facility has studio apartments all the way to two bedroom, two bath apartments with a full kitchen. There are currently seven units left vacant.

"It's not good," Herbst said.

Hooker said the monthly expenses are approximately $35,000 a month. The majority of that money is used to pay the 13 employees, three of whom work full time, and pay the food bill.

Although that doesn't leave much money left over, Hooker said the facility is not at risk of closing.

"I don't think that will happen," she said. "I don't think anyone would let that happen."

Herbst said the board likes to keep costs down and is able to continue to do so with the more residents it has.

As the census grows, it then falls again leaving the number of residents rather steady. The board built 10 new units in 2006 but has never filled them all. He said the group would like more residents to move into the facility. To generate more interest, there are deals being offered.

He said the census seems to be a little worse than normal at present. He said he attributes the recent decline due to the economy. He said many residents must sell their homes before they can afford to move into Fountain Place. With a slow housing market across the nation, it is taking longer for those homes to sell. He said there are currently three or four local residents who would like to move in but must wait.

Those wishing to become residents of Fountain Place aren't required to put down a deposit, sign a lease or enter into any long-term commitment. It is strictly handled on a month-by-month basis. At least one of the residents wanting to move into the facility must be age 65 or older.

That means if a man is 65 and his wife is 60 they can both move in, Herbst said.

With a eye on the future, Herbst said the board is optimistic about the success of Fountain Place and the sale of the facility.

"... it is a logical time for us to look to the future with new energy infused by new ownership. The entire board and staff is excited at the possibilities the future will hold."



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