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New $60 Million Senior Living Project Planned For Stillwater

Baby boomers who want to stay in the Stillwater area soon might have a new option: Croix Bay.

The $60 million senior-living community has been proposed on 50 acres near Long Lake on the western edge of Stillwater, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Croix Bay would open in 2017 and offer a range of living options, said Brian Farrell, president of Minneapolis-based Northland Real Estate Group, the project’s owner and developer.

Farrell said residents would choose from such options as senior cooperatives, independent living apartments, memory care and assisted living — all designed to help seniors “age in place.”

“The care is seamless,” he said. “(Residents) won’t need to move to a different wing (if a change needs to be made). It’s much less traumatic for the residents.”

Farrell said the 234-unit project would have a North Woods theme, taking advantage of the site’s natural beauty and featuring walking trails, bridges and gazebos.

“Our vision for this campus emerged from a perfectly wonderful piece of land with a gorgeous view of Long Lake,” he said. “This site has it all: views of the water, rolling hills, forested areas, streams and wildlife.

“We will enhance this natural beauty with lodge-type construction incorporating large wooden beams, stone and natural materials.”

Living at Croix Bay will “truly be like you’re going up to your cabin or to a lodge,” Farrell said.

Although there are a few skilled nursing facilities in Stillwater, there are no senior-living communities in the city proper, said Sue Ferguson, a spokeswoman for Ebenezer Management Services, the group that would manage and operate Croix Bay.

“People who live in Stillwater are very loyal to their community and want to stay there when it comes to downsizing or having access to eldercare services,” Ferguson said.

Noting the success of Boutwells Landing, the large senior housing complex in neighboring Oak Park Heights, Farrell said, “we are poised well to take advantage of the excess demand in the market right now.”

Croix Bay’s site on the south side of 75th Street North between Rutherford Elementary and Grace Baptist Church is “very wooded and lakeside” with a “natural, remote feeling,” Ferguson said.

In addition, Croix Bay will offer amenities such as lifelong learning options, arts, access to local businesses, social interaction and an emphasis on health and wellness, Ferguson said.

Croix Bay officials hope to break ground at the end of the summer, Farrell said.

Abbi Wittman, Stillwater’s city planner, said she does not expect any issues regarding the approval of the project. A 100-unit memory-care and assisted-living senior center previously was approved for the site but never built, she said.

“While they are doubling the number of housing units, the land area is four times greater,” she said. “A significant portion of the community will be open space, which will be beneficial for the entire area.”

Wittman said the plans could go to the Stillwater City Council for approval at the March 22 meeting.

A 2013 housing assessment conducted by the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority showed there would be demand for an additional 670 senior units — 375 for active adult and 295 service-enhanced — in the Stillwater area by 2020, she said.