Work on Winchester House nursing home replacement underway
After years of negotiation, planning and delays, construction of a $30 million skilled nursing home on Route 45 in Mundelein is underway.
Transitional Care of Lake County is its own entity, and when complete in mid-2020 will mark the end of county government's long-standing involvement in nursing home operations at Winchester House in Libertyville.
An official groundbreaking at the nearly 11-acre site, a former driving range just west of Dover Straits restaurant at 850 E. Route 45, is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday. Earth moving has begun.
"We promised Lake County and the residents of Lake County we were going to do it and we're doing it," said Brad Haber, principal with Innovative Health LLC.
"Lake County took a bold position in supporting this. That's more important than anything else -- that we made a promise and lived up to it," he added.
Innovative Health is the developer and owner, and will operate the 185-bed facility to include long-term nursing, memory care or short-term rehab services. The Rosemont-based company also is planning facilities in Lisle and Aurora but on a much smaller scale than in Mundelein.
The village approved plans in March 2017. At the time, it was anticipated the facility would be built and open in 2018.
"It's been a long road," Village Administrator John Lobaito said. "I've been looking forward to this getting underway for over a year."
Winchester House opened in 1847 as a poor farm on what is now the Lake County government campus north and west of Milwaukee Avenue and Winchester Road. Services evolved into a long-term care operation with 24-hour skilled care.
But as the use of nursing homes steadily declined, the familiar facility fronting Milwaukee Avenue saw fewer patients and had a growing deficit.
In October 2011, the county hired an outside firm to run Winchester House but decided to get out of the business altogether in 2014.
Transitional Care has leased the facilities and operated Winchester House since Aug. 1, 2015, with the county subsidizing its operation. The total subsidy will be $7.64 million through May 2020.
Under the agreement with the county, Transitional Care must complete a new building or vacate the current one, as the mechanical systems at Winchester House are past their useful life and the county is liable for potential costly repair or replacement.
Construction on the new state-licensed building was to have begun in June but an investor backed out, resulting in a delay.
All Winchester House residents will be relocated to the new building with no change in their financial arrangement, Haber said.
This year, Lake County authorized a $250,000 contract with Globetrotters Engineering Corporation to assess the five-story building and prepare estimates for its eventual demolition.