Senior Living Project Proposed in Auburn
Article by Dave Kurtz | KPC News | May 8, 2019
AUBURN — A request to rezone land for the Sterling Senior Living Project will go before the Auburn Plan Commission in a meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. in City Hall.
Sterling Senior Living of Mishawaka is proposing to build a three-story, 150,000-square-foot structure containing 132 units at 2144 S.R. 8 on the west edge of Auburn.
The development would include units for independent living, assisted living and memory care. It would have 50-60 full time employees covering three shifts.
The applicant is asking city officials to rezone the 10-acre site from agriculture to institutional use.
The site lies along the south side of S.R. 8, immediately west of a Holiday Inn Express hotel that is under construction. Steven J. Butler of Fort Wayne is the current owner of the land.
The staff of Auburn’s Department of Building, Planning and Development is recommending that the Plan Commission forward a favorable recommendation to the Auburn City Council for rezoning of the 10-acre tract of land to institutional.
“The proposed use as an assisted living facility is also appropriate for this area, as the immediate area is experiencing commercial growth in the form of hotels. It is our hope that restaurants and retail will follow,” the planning staff’s report says.
The building would have 50 units for independent living, 50 for assisted living and 32 for memory care, said John VanMeter, vice president of development for The Sterling Group. The center of the building would house dining areas, a kitchen, a bistro and “an array of amenities,” he said.
Franciscan Ministries of suburban Chicago would operate the building. VanMeter said the nonprofit Franciscan group runs senior housing developments, some of which it owns, and others that it operates for separate owners. The Sterling Group would serve as developer, general contractor and owner of the Auburn project.
Established in 1988 by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, the nonprofit Franciscan Ministries owns and manages senior living communities in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, according to its website.
The Sterling Group did not want to build in a metropolitan area and chose Auburn as a “nice-size community” for its project, VanMeter said.
“Auburn, demographically, worked really well — a great household income and an underserved market from an assisted-living standpoint,” VanMeter said.
The Sterling Group owns senior housing developments for independent living in the South Bend and Indianapolis area. Most of is developments are market-rate, multi-family units. It owns and manages 8,000 multi-family units in the Midwest and Southeast regions, VanMeter said.
“We’re excited about getting started here,” VanMeter said about Auburn. If approval is granted, the company plans to break ground for its Auburn development in the early third quarter of 2019. He estimated 12-13 months of construction would follow before opening the building.