The Ledger newspaper writes about the expansion projects coming to the Lake Gibson Village senior living campus
Read the full article and see photos on The Ledger website.
By Kevin Bouffard
Renee Tucker created Lake Gibson Village, a Lakeland retirement community, at the former Carpenters’ Home, at 90 years old one of the city’s oldest buildings.
That doesn’t mean she’s looking back.
CEO Tucker recently announced the second step in the Village’s development plan for the 66-acre property in North Lakeland with the sale of almost nine acres to Greystone Healthcare Management of Tampa to build a $25 million skilled nursing facility to open by late 2020.
“That was a pivotal piece to us,” Tucker said. “We are building out the entire continuum of care here with Greystone at Lake Gibson Village.”
The Village is a senior community offering independent and assisted living services for up to 143 people. It currently has 118 residents.
The Greystone facility will offer short-term and residential nursing care to seniors who need more help with daily living tasks, said Rob Yandek, the company’s vice president of development. He credited Tucker’s vision for the Village property for leading to the deal.
“This creates a logical synergy with independent assisted living and skilled nursing care,” he said. “It’s a logical continuum of care. This is a beautiful site.”
Tucker and Yandek envisioned Village residents who need skilled care — after a major surgery, for example – would move to the Greystone facility until they are ready to return to independent or assisted living.
Equally important, non-residents of the Village who become clients of the Greystone facility might be willing to explore moving to the Village when they’re ready, the executives said.
That’s one reason why the Village’s location near Interstate 4 is ideal for both facilities because it provides easy access for family members, Yandek said. It’s also conveniently near Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.
“To not have to go someplace that’s miles away or hard to get to is really important to families,” he said. “It ends up being a convenience for families.”
Groundbreaking for the Greystone facility is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019 with completion in about 18 months, Yandek said.
When opened, the facility will have 120 beds and employ up to 150 people, many in highly paid, skilled positions such as registered nurses; physical, occupational and other therapists; and managers, he said.
The Village has 54 full-time workers, Tucker said.
Both facilities will make significant contributions to the local economy and its residents, said Tony Delgado, Lakeland’s city manager.
“A very large part of our population is getting older, and Lake Gibson Village is continuing to fill a need for this growing segment of our community,” Delgado said. “The $25 million, 77,000-square-foot, service-oriented senior care and rehabilitation center will add to their campus, creating jobs and first-class facilities for our aging population.”
Lake Gibson Village opened in September 2016 after Tucker and her late brother, Doug Cook, a real estate developer, purchased the Carpenters’ Home property that had been deteriorating for lack of use. The last tenant, Evangel Christian School, closed in 2006.
“What attracted him (Cook) to this building was the architecture,” Tucker said. “It was a diamond in the rough, and he could see that.”
The company has invested nearly $20 million in the building to date, she said.
Tucker, who has a background in health care and marketing along with an MBA, developed a 5- to 10-year development plan for the Village in 2015, she said.
She is already working toward the third step in that plan, a 64-bed memory care center for people afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia disorders, Tucker said. It would be built along the lines of other memory facilities, including enhanced security, special lighting that affects mood, and therapeutic services.
“One of the basic things is to design and construct a building that allows residents to enjoy the greatest amount of freedom and not feel like they’re living in an institution,” said Tucker, who had no timeline for announcing that project.
Other aspects of the development plan include villas and apartments for up to 500 additional senior residents, she said.
Greystone Health has experienced a recent growth spurt since the company’s founding in 2000, Yandek said.
Initially the company purchased existing skilled and assisted-living facilities, he said, but it built its first new facility in 2012.
“We decided we could do this again,” Yandek said.
The Village facility will be its third new project after the scheduled opening of a 150-bed facility in Kendall later this year, he added. The company also expects to break ground on an 80-bed facility in Clermont next year and another later in Apopka.
Greystone currently operates 27 skilled and assisted-living facilities in Florida, Yankek said.
“We’re committed to Florida and to growing in Florida,” he said. “It’s one of the more favorable business climates for health care and skilled nursing facilities.”
Tucker and Yandek complimented Lakeland city officials, who have been very easy to work with through the complicated permitting process, they said.
Delgado returned the compliment.
“We are extremely grateful that we have partners like Lake Gibson Village who had a vision and a plan to transform the property to an unrivaled full-service senior living complex,” he said.
— Kevin Bouffard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 863-802-7591.