Martha & Mary proposes assisted living facility

POULSBO — Since January 2011, 10,000 people a day started turning 65, according to Aging-in-Place specialist and architect Aaron Murphy.

It’s Murphy’s job to help keep you in your home as long as possible, but for many, deteriorating health eventually forces them to look at other options.

Poulsbo may have another option soon: the owners of Poulsbo Place recently announced a proposal to build a 100-room assisted living facility on Jensen Way, partnering with Martha & Mary. Officials from FPH Construction, Central Highland Builders, Rice Fergus Miller Architects and Martha & Mary hosted a neighborhood meeting Monday to answer questions about the project.

Chad Solvie, CEO of Martha & Mary, said 20 years ago the likelihood of someone aged 65 or older using Martha & Mary’s services was 5 percent. Last year, the likelihood raised to 70 percent.

“The type of care we’re doing is changing quite a bit,” he said, by bringing in recovery patients from the hospital, providing efficient care at a lower cost.

The proposed development will have 77 assisted living units with small kitchenettes, and 23 memory care units, with dining and activity areas, services and a wellness center. Solvie said the facility will create 80 new permanent jobs, including 24/7 nursing staff.

The 2.2-acre lot is under the Poulsbo Place Master Plan, approved by the city in 1995. Because the use will remain commercial, there is no change to the Master Plan. The original intent was to build 360 residential units, plus street level commercial space, in more than 200,000 square feet. Now, the building will take up 96,000 square feet and will include 7,500 square feet of retail space on the street.

The lot also includes space behind the post office, which will not be developed at the same time. Mike Brown, owner of FPH Construction and partner in Poulsbo Place, said initial plans are to add more assisted living units, but they are open to building regular residential apartments in that space. Based on funding available, he does hope to build all the parking lots at the same time — the main parking for the Martha & Mary facility and retail spaces will be a subterranean garage lot of 99 spaces, underneath the facility along 3rd Avenue (across from Martha & Mary Kids).

Brown said a third lot is also planned for the second residential building, behind the post office, that will accommodate between 30-40 spaces and accessible from the street. When the second apartment building is built — Brown said he hopes within a year of completing the Martha & Mary facility — it will be two floors of apartments above the street level parking.

Many neighbors from Poulsbo Place said Monday they didn’t think there will be enough parking with this new development. According to Poulsbo’s zoning code, this development is planning four more spaces than is legally required for this commercial space.

But one woman said only the staff and facility visitors would benefit from the underground parking.

“You have [staff parking] plus owners and employees of the [retail space] and clients and people who can’t find parking now,” she said.

City planner Linda Mueller said the city felt the underground parking was adequate for staff and visitors, but did not specifically address parking for retail clients. The developers hope to see services that serve both the broader community and the facility — a hair salon or a cafe.

Other neighbors were concerned about the height of the building. The development is planned to be three floors, and city code states a roof line can be up to 45 feet high if the development includes underground parking. As the lot slopes uphill, it will appear to be two floors from 3rd Avenue — Mueller estimated that side of the building will be between 22-25 feet.

The roofline will be broken up with dormers, usually a window that protrudes from a sloping roof.

Brown said the design is not completed. The group will submit their formal application in about six months and, if approved, expect to begin construction in 2014.

The formal application will trigger a two-week public comment period.

Mayor Becky Erickson was at the meeting and said this facility is a good fit for downtown Poulsbo.

“We have a whole crop of aging baby boomers that are looking… into the future,” she said. “There’s just a lot of us. I’m a baby boomer, there’s a huge swell in this demographic. Interestingly [we’re] building assisted living and closing schools … [which] shows the change in our community.”

Directors of assisted living facilities in Poulsbo agree.

Solvie said about seven years ago the trend was independent living. Now, folks are staying in their homes longer until needing the care of an assisted living or nursing facility.

Sigrid Howard, administrator for Liberty Shores Senior Living in Poulsbo, said she sees that the move into assisted living is now need-driven — a spouse dies, or a traumatic health event alters the level of care needed.

She and Lee Sandstede, executive director of Montclair Park in Poulsbo, said they are seeing the level of dementia increasing in seniors.

“Last month a study came out, the number of folks of the untreatable form of dementia [Alzheimer’s] will triple in next 40 years,” he said, to almost 14 million by 2050. He said it’s now necessary to be flexible to meet the changing needs, “subtracting memory care or assisted living as the market demands.”


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