Fairview Health Services is finalizing plans for a state-of-the-art complex that will increase the amount of senior housing at its Burnsville campus by 30 percent. The $10 to $12 million complex, known as Arbors II, will range over 22,890 square feet and include more than 60 apartments, as well as gardens, a chapel, beauty shop and other amenities.
The building will go up on an undeveloped 4.4-acre site located at the northeast corner of Community Drive and Nicollet Boulevard. A little over half the site will be devoted to Arbors II. The remaining 1.9 acres will be developed at a later date.
"We're excited to be able to offer more services because most of our senior care buildings are full," said Campus Director Erin Hilligan. "This offers us some space to spread out a bit."
At present, Fairview has three distinct senior facilities on its Burnsville campus: Ebenezer Ridges Care Center (a 104-bed nursing home built in 1976), the Arbors at Ridges (a 45-unit assisted living complex) and Ebenezer Ridge Point, a 42-unit apartment building for older adults who still live independently. Hilligan said the precise function of Arbors II has not set in stone as yet, but that the extra room would allow Fairview to open up a memory care unit somewhere on the campus.
Developers presented the project to the city on Tuesday. The council received the plan favorably, though the building sparked a discussion: How much is too much when it comes to rental properties in general, and senior housing in particular?
Over the last decade, Burnsville has tried to encourage family home ownership by maintaining a housing mix of 70 percent single-family homes to 30 percent rental. City Planner Chris Slania said that according to the 2010 census, there are approximately 429 assisted living units among the city’s 25,759 housing units. If the Arbors II facility is considered a rental property, it would “put us beyond the 70-30 mix," Slania said.
Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said that senior housing may need to be considered differently than rental, but that the topic deserves a longer discussion. The number of both rentals and assisted living units should be carefully balanced, Kautz said, to protect the city's bottom line.
“When you have too many assisted living units, it is a factor,” she said, pointing to the need for increased emergency services. “While fire calls are down in the city, emergency calls are going up.”
The council requested the issue be placed on the agenda at an upcoming work session.
Fairview hopes to begin construction in June. The building will likely be complete in 10 to 12 months.