by Vicki Ikeogu
Since opening its new campus in St. Joseph in November, Sartell-based County Manor has been well received in the community.
“It’s so wonderful to be in St. Joe,” said Emily Frericks, County Manor director of public relations and marketing. “We are at over 50 percent occupancy which is impressive since we are brand new.”
Country Manor recently expanded into the St. Joseph area with its 157,000-square-foot Woodcrest of Country Manor facility. It is the facility’s first expansion outside of Sartell.
“To be honest, our Country Manor campus (in Sartell) has had waiting lists for most areas for quite some time,” said Emily Frericks, Country Manor director of public relations and marketing. “There was a real need for senior housing and we at Country Manor have had this hope and dream of expanding for a long time.”
Open to the public in November, the development, 1200 Lanigan Way SW., consists of 60 senior apartments and 23 memory-care suites. Twelve patio home lots are also currently available with final construction on a model patio home to be completed in the next few weeks.
St. Joseph City Administrator Judy Weyrens said the development is a welcome sight for area residents.
“For the last number of years our EDA (Economic Development Authority) has been hearing there are just no places for seniors in St. Joe,” Weyrens said. “This facility will be the largest and provide the most variety in types of (senior) housing for our community.”
Frericks said the search for a new Country Manor facility began in 2014. St. Joseph was one of the early contenders.
“Everyone in St. Joseph was so welcoming,” Frericks said. “They stuck with us every step of the way.”
Groundbreaking for the more than $15-million facility began in August 2016. Weyrens said the city provided Country Manor with a tax abatement for the project.
Woodcrest of Country Manor mirros the Sartell Country Manor location.
“We will be offering similar amenities like a general store, a chapel and a wellness center,” Frericks said.
And those amenities are sought after among current Woodcrest of Country Manor residents.
“We are seeing huge crowds at our chapel right now,” Frericks said. “And we are seeing increased attendance at our wellness facility. We are even having to bring over a masseuse from our Sartell campus to St. Joe. There seems to be such an instant connection among the residents.”
Frericks said the Woodcrest facility was constructed to complement the natural wooded area the property sits on. The building has large windows that allow plenty of natural light into the facility. In addition, Woodcrest of Country Manor also has an indoor secured courtyard.
“A lot of our area seniors grew up in rural settings,” Frericks said. “But when their health changes, they still want to stay in that rural environment. I think Woodcrest of Country Manor provides that.”
Weyrens said the location of the new facility in St. Joseph will more than likely draw seniors from outside the city to Woodcrest.
“At one time we had done a market study and found our community really draws from our neighbors to the west (like Avon and Albany),” Weyrens said. “We offer that closeness to St. Cloud without actually being in St. Cloud.”
And as a bonus, Weyrens said staff at Country Manor have been reaching out to Kennedy Elementary School to potentially incorporate intergenerational activities between residents and students.
“We have had so much support from the staff at Kennedy,” Frericks said. “We actually housed our (St. Joseph) offices out at Kennedy. And a lot of the staff are really supportive of developing an intergenerational program.”
Housing costs for Woodcrest of Country Manor vary on the size of home or apartment and the amount of services needed by tenants.
Apartments range in size from 675- to 1,250-square-feet. There are one- and two-bedroom options available.
Around the clock, on-site nursing care will be available to tenants.
Woodcrest of Country Manor plans to hire 25 people to fill positions such as home care, dietary needs, environmental services, administration and support staff. More information on floor plans and tours can be found at woodcrestofcountrymanor.org.
Vicki Ikeogu is a local freelance reporter from St. Cloud. Ikeogu is a 2015 mass communications graduate from St. Cloud State University. Ikeogu was previously the business reporter at the St. Cloud Times. She currently works as a transportation planner for the Saint Cloud Area Planning Organization.