Guardian Care seeks rezoning for assisted living & nursing facilities

GrowthSpotter contributor

Guardian Care, Inc., which has operated a highly-rated nursing home in Orlando's Washington Shores area for nearly 50 years, is ready to move forward on two-year-old plans for a five-story, assisted- and independent- living building, along with a skilled nursing care facility.

On Monday, the Orlando City Council will consider the non-profit’s request to rezone 12.6 acres from residential and office uses to Planned Development. The property lies south of W. Church Street, west of John Young Parkway, east of S. Cottage Hill Road and north of Herold Drive.

The council also will review Guardian’s Development Plan on Monday, which lays out a construction schedule in three phases.

The first phase calls for demolishing the 36-unit McGruder Apartments and constructing a new 80-bed skilled nursing facility in a one-story, 49,072-square-foot building on the south side of the property. An existing 40-bed skilled nursing home will remain.

In Phase 2, that existing nursing facility will be renovated to add 11 assisted living beds.

Phase 3 would see construction of a five-story, 101,500-square-foot building, also on the north side, that would house 80 beds for assisted living and 60 independent living units.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreed to provide mortgage insurance for the lender or lenders financing the project. A HUD spokeswoman told GrowthSpotter the mortgage insurance transaction is being processed. Once the mortgage is closed, it will be insured by HUD and the final amount and other details will be disclosed. 

Synergy Healthcare Services operates Guardian’s current nursing home. Tom Flewellyn, Synergy’s vice president for customer relations/operations, declined requests for information about the project.

Guardian Care has a long, venerated history. The original Guardian hospital opened in 1958 as an acute care hospital for blacks, who were shut out of other hospitals at that time due to segregation. Many Orlando leaders who grew up in the Washington Shores community were born at the hospital, including Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

In 1964, the South Atlantic Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists took over as owners of the building and operated it as a nursing home until 1968. At that point, Guardian Care Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation was formed to continue providing nursing home care for community residents.

The facility employs 250 full-time and part-time employees. It has been recognized by the American Health Care Association as one of the best assisted living and nursing homes in the country.

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