Orlando-based senior living firm preps memory care facility site in Longwood

GrowthSpotter contributor

CERTUS Senior Living plans to begin construction in late summer on a 64-unit memory care community near Longwood.

The 43,326-square-foot facility will be built on 4.4 acres at the southwest corner of EE Williamson Road and Interstate 4 in unincorporated Seminole County. It will be one of four memory care communities the Orlando-based firm will have under construction in Central Florida by August, CEO Glen Pawlowski told GrowthSpotter.

The other sites are Waterford Lakes in Orange County, Orange City in Volusia County and Mount Dora in Lake County.

The Mount Dora site is now under construction, Orange City should go under construction in the next two weeks, Waterford Lakes site work will start in July, and Longwood site work should begin in the August-September time frame, Pawlowski said.

The general contractor on the project, Certified General Contractors of Melbourne, will be hiring local workers for the $12 million project, Pawlowski said. When the facility opens, 49 full-time-equivalent and 60 part-time positions will be created.

Pawlowski and his partners announced their Central Florida expansion plans last year, saying the company wanted to tap into what partners feel is an underserved market: assisted living communities that specialize in care for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“A lot of assisted living facilities may have a wing for people who need memory care,” Pawlowski said this week. “But I think our experiences show that when you go all in, everything you do is geared, focused on what is uniquely beneficial to them and what works best for them."

The memory care facilities are being built using a prototype of 64 studio-style apartments divided into two 32-unit wings, with just over 43,000 square feet under roof. The building interiors are painted in soothing colors and otherwise designed to be both comfortable and stimulating.

Private studio apartments will range from 275 to 335 square feet, and each property will have two distinct dining and lounge areas with the wings connected by a central “town center” that features a bistro, park benches, a beauty shop and a theater.

The facility does not provide medical services as would be the case in a nursing home. But the staff are all certified in caring for people with memory problems.

“We try to take those kinds of things into consideration and try to tailor the environment, as well as engaging them on the intellectual side and the social side,” Pawlowski said. “We think it’s the way that results in a better living experience for people who have that condition.”

Pawlowski said he and his partners liked the Longwood site because of its easy access to I-4, as well as to the well-traveled EE Williamson Road. Industry statistics suggest up to 40 percent of people who move into an assisted living community become aware of it while driving by. The primary market for such a facility is within a seven-mile radius.

“In our business, everybody uses one methodology or another,” Pawlowski said. “We try to break down the current competition and the current supply to determine whether there is a need. In this specific location, the methodology shows there is at least some additional need for the product.”

One reason CERTUS partners felt the memory care market was under-served: Florida has approximately 500,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, or 10 percent of the nation’s total Alzheimer’s population.

And at 17.3 percent, Florida has the highest percent of residents age 65 and older, the age range when people are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In contrast, 13.7 percent of the U.S. population is 65-plus.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at msalinero@outlook.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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