Friday, March 23, 2012

Senior-care company secures site

Safe Haven inks deal to buy 30-acre parcel in Bellevue


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Senior-care provider Safe Haven Health Care has entered into a contract to purchase a site on which it plans to build an 80-bed tiered-care facility near Bellevue.

CEO and founder Scott Burpee said Wednesday that the company had entered into a contract to buy, but had not closed on, a 30-acre parcel that is partly in the county and partly in the city of Bellevue.

The site is located at the end of Seventh Avenue in Bellevue, north and east of the downtown core. The land is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese, which petitioned the city to annex six acres of the property in 2005 to facilitate plans to build a new church. Those plans were never realized.

Burpee said his company will ask the city of Bellevue to annex the county portion of the land. Real estate agent Dan Gorham, who is working with Burpee on the project, said the company hopes to complete the transaction and the annexation process in time to begin construction this year.

"We don't know what obstacles we're going to face, but we're optimistic," he said.

Bellevue Planning and Zoning Director Craig Eckles said approval from the city could be quick—even with annexation, approval might be issued by summer, he said.

"Water and sewer services already run to the site. It has two streets and an alley to the site," he said. "The utilities are there. Going through the [permitting] process and the annexation process, it would be two to three months."

Eckles said there would likely be little city opposition to the annexation request.

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Gorham said that if the property is annexed, property taxes on the site could bring $50,000 a year to local government. The project itself is estimated to cost between $8 million and $9 million, Burpee said, with an annual payroll of about $2 million.

"There will be some good-paying jobs," he said, adding that about 20 of the 120 employees at Safe Haven Sun Valley Care Center would hold upper- or middle-management positions.

Safe Haven Health Care already owns seven senior-care sites across the state, but Burpee said Blaine County's lack of tiered-care residences makes the area a perfect market.

Blaine County commissioners have also expressed support for the project, saying a privately owned and operated facility could be the solution to providing care for Blaine County seniors.

However, Burpee said the market for senior care is large enough for both his company's facility and Croy Canyon Ranch—a tiered-care facility proposed for west of Hailey.

The biggest obstacle to his plans, he said, would be if the county decided to fund Croy Canyon Ranch through a general-obligation bond financed by property taxes.

"We just don't want to be paying property taxes [to fund] a competitor," he said.

According to a company-released timeline, construction could begin as early as August. Burpee said the building would include a 10-bed secured dementia unit, 16 private skilled-nursing units, 24 semi-private skilled-nursing units and 30 units of assisted living.

The two parts of the one-level building are planned to share what Burpee calls a "town square," a front-entrance lobby that would house administrative offices, visitor check-in, a small gift shop and other services while leading visitors and patients to both the skilled-nursing and assisted-living areas of the building.

Burpee said construction could start as late as early November, as long as the concrete foundation is poured before the ground freezes.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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