Little Green Oaks lands big senior living project

  • Rendering of the $47 million Green Oaks Senior Living project at the former Jamaican Gardens property on Route 176 in Green Oaks. The project features 194 apartments and is scheduled to open in summer 2017.

    Rendering of the $47 million Green Oaks Senior Living project at the former Jamaican Gardens property on Route 176 in Green Oaks. The project features 194 apartments and is scheduled to open in summer 2017. Courtesy of Spectrum Retirement Communities LLC

  • Denver-based Spectrum Retirement Communities LLC continues to grow its presence in the suburbs with the ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday at the longtime site of the former Jamaica Gardens nursery in Green Oaks. Bricks from the former structures will be reused.

      Denver-based Spectrum Retirement Communities LLC continues to grow its presence in the suburbs with the ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday at the longtime site of the former Jamaica Gardens nursery in Green Oaks. Bricks from the former structures will be reused. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/18/2015 6:18 PM

A national developer of senior living facilities is expanding its presence in the suburbs with a $47 million project on a long idle former nursery on Route 176 near I-94.

The development of Green Oaks Senior Living by Denver-based Spectrum Retirement Communities LLC will feature cottages on a lake and other amenities on a 15-acre site occupied for decades by the Jamaican Gardens nursery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was the size we were looking for because we wanted to have a big presence," said Mike Longfellow, senior vice president of construction and development. Two lakes on the property and proximity to the tollway and the Old School Forest Preserve were among the lures for the company, which operates 30 facilities in 12 states.

"This is not the largest one we've ever done, but it is one of the largest," Longfellow said Tuesday during a ceremonial groundbreaking. "This is really going to be a flagship for us in Chicago and in the country."

The project will offer 110 independent living apartments, 48 assisted living and 24 memory care apartments in 200,000 square feet of building area -- a three-story main building and six, single-story rental duplexes. Amenities will include a theater, wellness center, library, beauty salon, and sky lounge.

Spectrum is the first of two senior living facilities to break ground in Green Oaks within weeks and illustrates the success of a strategy being used by the small town to spark redevelopment. Another ceremony is planned in a few weeks for Sheridan of Green Oaks, a senior living facility with commercial businesses at Atkinson and Waukegan roads, the site of the former Hilltop sanitarium.

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The properties are part of the 300-acre special taxing district designated by the village last year in which the value of property for taxing purposes to various entities is frozen for 23 years. Taxes levied and collected as the property increases in value are set aside in a special fund to reimburse the developer for the cost of various improvements, such as roads and utilities.

"This inspired the whole project," Green Oaks Mayor Bernard Wysocki said of the tax increment financing district. "When Jamaican Gardens burned down (two years ago), there were no taxes that went to the taxing bodies."

Spectrum has not yet requested any funds from the village but is expected to do so, village attorney Rudy Magna said. The reimbursement would be limited to a maximum of 25 percent of qualified improvements.

"A big one here was the cost of (soil) remediation," due to fertilizers and other substances used in the garden operation, he added.

Magna said the village is looking forward to the construction and other jobs that will be created. Spectrum estimates 80 to 100 full and part-time employees when the facility opens in summer 2017.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Architect Lawrence Dziurdzik, who has worked on all of Spectrum's projects in Illinois, said the project will take a site that hasn't been touched in years and restore it. Bricks from the 70- to 80-year-old nursery building will be reused to build a fishing pier and pavilion, he added.

"These are things that Spectrum has never done on its properties," Dziurdzik said.

Longfellow said there is a "sustained demand for the foreseeable future" for senior living facilities.

"The Baby Boomers are a big part of that," he said.

Magna noted residents will pay their own costs with no government subsidies.

"I think it's a testament to how large this senior market is," he said.

Spectrum entered the market about five years ago with Cedar Lake Assisted Living & Memory Care in Lake Zurich. It also operates in Cary, is set to open in a few weeks in Lombard and is under construction in Streamwood.

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