ATHENS — A Tennessee-based partnership plans to break ground this spring on an $8 million assisted living facility on U.S. 72 east of Interstate 65.
Traditions Senior Living and Century Investment Partners, both of Franklin, plan to break ground in April or May on the 57,000-square-foot, two-story facility, according to Traditions CEO Wes Bartlett.
When it opens — about a year after groundbreaking — the facility will have up to 30 workers on staff and 64 beds, according to Bartlett, who lauded the location.
“Athens was our first target,” Bartlett said. “We just love the market (and) think it’s underserved. The location is perfect with so many wonderful services accessible.”
Limestone County property records show the vacant lot belongs to the irrevocable trust of John D. Maund and has an estimated market value of $1.16 million.
The site at the southwest corner of U.S. 72 and Greenfield Drive is situated near a Publix Super Market, an Athens fire station, the Athens Limestone Diagnostic Center, Medical East Urgent Care, the Athens Eye Clinic and OrthoSports Athens.
It also is near several undeveloped lots belonging to the Health Care Authority of Athens & Limestone County.
“A lot of people, if they need senior living, they have to go to Madison or Huntsville or even farther to Chattanooga in some cases,” Bartlett said.
“We feel Athens is a wonderful place, and we want to support that community and stem the tide from people going far and having families having to travel to see their loved ones.”
Bartlett said he started Traditions after moving from Pennsylvania about two years ago. Traditions will serve as the facility’s operator, and Century Investment, a related company, will be the developer.
The Athens Planning Commission already has dealt with the project, rezoning the five-acre property from a general business district to a medical center district in September. The Athens City Council signed off on the rezoning in October.
“That zoning conversion was in tune with our future land use and development plan for Athens and more specifically that area of town,” Athens City Planner Mac Martin said.
In December, the planning commission approved a site plan for the project, leaving the city’s building and fire departments to review plans for the facility.
Traditions has proposed a second phase that will add patio homes for residents who require less assistance. Bartlett estimated the total investment between the first and second phases at $11 million.
It was not clear when the second phase would move forward.
“We want to make sure it’s successful, and it’s something the community is interested in,” Bartlett said.
Residents in the first-phase facility will have their own apartments, according to Bartlett. The company will provide meals, housekeeping, medication assistance, monitoring and other services.
Bartlett said they have purchased an option on the property, which keeps the owners from selling the land to someone else and retains the option to buy for the developer.
Traditions is in the process of purchasing another assisted living facility in south Alabama.
Bartlett said he could not reveal the details of that purchase because of a nondisclosure agreement, but he expects to close on the sale about the time of groundbreaking for the Athens facility.
Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks applauded the project, mentioning it in his state of the city address this month.
He said later that the investment will bring additional jobs and tax revenue to the city and allow more residents to stay in Athens when they need assisted living services.