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New player enters the senior housing space with shovel-ready project in Leesburg

The 4-story building in Leesburg is designed with separate wings and amenities for independent living residents and assisted living/memory care residents.
The 4-story building in Leesburg is designed with separate wings and amenities for independent living residents and assisted living/memory care residents. (Humphreys & Partners)

An Austin, Texas-based developer will apply for building permits this month for an innovative $32 million senior living facility on Leesburg’s County Road 48, south of Lake Denham.

Larry LaBonte, managing partner for Senior Living Access Care Group, told GrowthSpotter the partners have owned the 15-acre site since 2005. As The Villages expanded to the south, the partners agreed that a congregant senior living facility was the highest and best use of the property.

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“It is just now perfectly positioned between the main Villages and the new Villages, where they bought the 2,100 acres from Leesburg,” LaBonte said. “So it’s the perfect spot for a continuing care campus.”

The firm has its zoning and entitlements in place. Last week consulting civil engineer Riddle Newman filed construction plans with the St. Johns River Water Management District for the 3-story, 152-unit building on the 12-acre campus. The site plan also reserves 3 acres at the corner of CR 33 and CR 48 for a future commercial parcel.

The Waterman Village retirement community has 250-person waiting list, so it's adding enough new apartments and and cottages to satisfy the demand.

The center is designed with separate entrances, dining facilities and amenities for the 75 independent living units and the 77 assisted living and memory care units. On the IL side, the residents will have restaurant-style dining, along with two separate bistros and a poolside tiki bar.

It’s also pet-friendly and has its own dog park and half-mile walking trail.

The project will use the Inspired Living branding employed by the developer’s operating partner, Validus Senior Living. The Tampa-based company operates an 108-bed assisted living/memory care facility in Ocoee that opened in 2016. Validus will operate all four of the senior living facilities SLACG has under development in Florida and three other states.

LaBonte said the Leesburg project already has its financing in place with Citizens First Bank in Leesburg. “We’re good to go,” he said. “We always work with local banks because they have more of a community interest and are better able to adapt to market dynamics.”

Texas-based Humphreys & Partners, a leading multifamily architecture firm that is expanding in the senior living space, designed the building and landscape. The General Contractor, Bentley Companies, is already on board.

Find out what's coming in this $100+ million project in Leesburg, right next door to the regional hospital.

LaBonte said the team incorporated more than $800,000 in design change orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Those include hospital-grade non-UV Anti-Bacterial Lighting that kills MERS and SARs ($700/fixture); BioWall Air filtration HVAC System and thermal imaging scans at points of entry to quickly take body temperatures.

The community has designated space for doctors’ visits and physical rehab activities, but the developer upgraded its technology platforms to incorporate telemedicine options on all flat-screen TVs in the AL/MC units. The company was even able to finance a stockpile of Personal Protective Equipment for employees.

“We were able to make the changes to create a safer environment for residents,” Labonte said. “The adept lenders see that’s going to have a very distinct advantage because it will be a safer, cleaner environment.”

The 223-unit complex will be the second Tuscan Isle community in the Orlando market.

The developer is also introducing a new care companion pilot program at its Leesburg center. The company will set aside two studio apartment units and offer free room and board for college or medical students who agree to spend about 20-24 hours per month

“Seniors spend a great deal of time in their room, and we want them to be willing to spend time out of the their room,” LaBonte said. “This is a layer of service that provides a really nice environment. It’s a lot of money to give up two units, but we’re here to provide the best quality of life and level of service we can. Sometimes you have to put the dollars aside and have faith that things will work out.”

The project is one of several senior independent living projects in the pipeline for Lake County. Those include the expansion at Waterman Village in Mount Dora and the second phase of Clermont Ridge Senior Villas on Hunt Trace Boulevard.

Venetian Isles, a 50-acre mixed-use medical medical campus near Leesburg Regional Medical Center, is also slated to have a future 250-bed ALF, along with medical offices, apartments and a hotel. Construction is underway now on the hotel, a Towneplace Suites by Marriott.

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The First Baptist Church of Clermont is also seeking approvals for an assisted living/memory care facility next to its new church at the intersection of Hancock and Hartwood Marsh roads. The city’s Planning & Zoning Board recommended denial of the required land use and zoning change.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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