MANATEE - The assisted living market is booming in Manatee County to the tune of $65 million this spring as two developers rush to break ground on two new facilities.
The projects, one planned to be built on Lena Road north of State Route 70 and the other near Bayshore Gardens, are expected to be home to 276 people when complete by summer 2015. Both are going through the county permitting process at the same time, which may be an indicator of a mini-boom in the local assisted living market.
"We don't see these that often," said Bob Schmitt, manager of the Manatee County Planning Division.
The new facilities will come online as demand for the services they offer spikes in Florida. Luis Collazo, president of the Tallahassee-based Florida Assisted Living Association, said cities all over the state need more assisted- living units.
"In general, there is a need for assisted living as the population continues to age," he said.
The $30 million East Manatee project, known as Lakewood Senior Living, is the larger of the two with 150 beds. Local developer Michael Sporer has an April 14 appointment to present the project to the county planning commission. He said his application to build the facility has been "fast tracked," which means he could start building as soon as May. Con
struction is expected to take 13 months.
To make that groundbreaking date, Sporer still needs to submit a site plan to the county. The land under the proposed project -- which is adjacent to the Rosedale Golf and Country Club and a few hundred yards north of a Holiday Inn hotel -- must also be rezoned. It currently does not allow for the construction and operation of a residential facility in the commercial neighborhood at that location. Planning officials said that rezone will happen.
Sporer said the three-story facility will offer at least two levels of care, including a 40-bed memory care unit.
It is planned to be a private-pay facility, meaning residents will pay for their units and care out of their own pockets rather than relying on entitlement programs. He expects up to 80 people will be employed at the facility.
A career real estate broker and investor, Sporer said he does not expect to own or operate the facility after it is completed. He said his company, Creekwood Investors, will try to sell the facility to a regional or national real estate investment trust.
"We'll probably have a contract to sell it soon," Sporer said.
Another assisted living facility has a head start on Sporer's project in the planning department. Discovery Village at Sarasota Bay, a planned 126-unit project, has finished its public hearing process and has applied to have its final site plan approved.
Bonita Springs-based Discovery Senior Living purchased 11 acres for the facility on W. 69th Avenue in Bradenton in 2011. Discovery CEO Tom Harrison said the $35 million project will be one of seven assisted living facilities his company has built or will build in Florida. The company's first operating assisted living property opened in Fort Myers in 2012.
The new local property will offer supervised independent living, assisted living and memory care units. Construction is expected to last a year.
Harrison said that while the west 69th Avenue area is decidedly not upscale, it is the right place to build assisted living facilities.
"The surrounding area there is not the greatest," he said. "But it's right smack in the middle of tremendous demand."
Discovery will also be a private-pay facility. Units in the project will range from 375 to 700 square feet. Residents will have access to an onsite movie theater, a wellness center and three dining rooms.
Discovery plans to use the Orlando builder Douglas Co. as its general contractor. Sporer said his contractor of choice will likely be Bradenton-based NDC Construction Company.
Matt M. Johnson, Bradenton business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.