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Senior development could break ground next month

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Bid delays have pushed back the construction of Willow Health Care Inc.’s Copper Rock Village senior health care community in Rogersville. Now, the company hopes to break ground next month. 

Formerly slated to open in late 2018, that date is now pushed back to spring 2019, said Shirley Alter, vice president of operations for Willow Springs-based Willow Health Care.

“It’s still going a little slow. But we are in the process of awarding the bid, which is not official yet, until we sign the paperwork. Hopefully, by the middle of January, you will see dirt moving,” she said, noting seven bids were considered.

The winning bid and loan amount will be disclosed around Jan. 5, Alter said.

Budgeted at $23 million, the 68-acre development at 712 Copper Rock Drive, on the south side of town off VV Highway, is planned in three phases – a 90-bed skilled facility, 60-bed assisted-living center and 32-unit independent-housing apartment facility.

“So, over the next five years, that would be the plan, to have a total campus,” Alter said.

The skilled-care portion is expected to take 14 months, she said, and should open in early 2019. A period of down time is planned between each phase.

The new Rogersville community would be Willow Health Care’s fifth skilled facility, Alter said.

Started in 1979, the company funds its projects through low-interest loans from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, which was formerly known as Farmers Home Administration.

“You have to build in a rural area to qualify,” she said.

Funding through the USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan Program is eligible to community-based nonprofit corporations and public bodies developing an "essential service" in towns with less than 20,000 residents, according to federal specifications. Officials estimate the USDA in fiscal 2017 provided over $1 billion for 97 health care projects, including assisted living facilities as well as hospitals and medical and dental clinics. As one of 41 states with funded projects, Missouri developments received over $1 million through the program.

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