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Summerhill eldercare facility plan moves forward in Cottage Grove

The Summerhill Crossing elderly living facility is proposed for the northwest corner of Hinton Avenue and 70th Street in Cottage Grove. Submitted illustration

The Cottage Grove Planning Commission signed off on a concept plan to construct a $9 million, multi-unit elderly housing facility at the corner of Hinton Avenue and 70th Street, a project that would require the city to rezone the vacant lot.

For many years, Mike Rygh, founder of Custom One Homes and lot owner, originally planned for it to be occupied by several commercial properties. However, after scouting potential projects, he said an eldercare facility was needed to meet demand coming from the rising number of retiring baby boomers.

"Since it was in the (planned unit development) to be commercial, we are comfortable with changing it to residential," Cottage Grove City Engineer Jennifer Levitt said.

While the building plans are still preliminary, Rygh is proposing a 66-unit independent and dependent living facility. Tentatively named Summerhill Crossing, the facility will have a three-story independent living wing with 54 independent and assisted living apartments and a one-story, 12-unit memory care wing.

Rygh, who has partnered with Ecumen, a national senior housing and long-term care services provider, received feedback from area residents during an open house earlier this month, as well as from planning commission members last week.

"The commission provided a favorable response to the project and will be telling the City Council that they are supportive of changing the (planned unit development) to allow this," Levitt said.

With the project still in an early concept stage, the commission asked for more attention be paid to what Levitt called the "massing" of the building. The commission is interested in seeing how the three-story concept plays out, she said.

"The current concept has three stories on one end and one story on the other," Levitt explained. "The concern is that we would need to balance out the massing better."

Without additional space to expand the building to accommodate a two-story layout instead of a three-story independent living wing, Levitt said the only option is to build vertically.

Included in the building plans is a common space with a cafe, a restaurant and lounge, and an outdoor fixture, such as a water fountain.

Summerhill Crossing will provide residents with flexible month-to-month rental options and offer 23 full-time equivalent jobs. However, the senior living complex will not be a skilled nursing facility.

Architectural designs have not been submitted to the city yet but Rygh said the aesthetics would be similar to adjacent properties.

"If all goes according to plan," said Mark Liska, vice president of Adolfson and Peterson construction, at the open house "we could start construction next spring. But, it all depends on how quickly we get the documents through the different stages of discussion and get them approved."

Liska said construction on the facility could take up to a year.

The proposal will go before the council on June 5, during which Levitt said more details will be presented.

"The nice thing is the neighborhood is embracing this concept," she added. "They said they were tired of looking at a vacant lot and would be happy to see a nicely designed building with high quality design there."