In a rural setting not far from downtown, new twin homes are going up in St. Martin Village, just north of Wilderness Park in Rapid City, built by a developer that senses a need for senior housing.
The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society is building on the land formerly owned by the Benedictine Sisters of St. Martin Monastery, said Ron Kortemeyer, executive director of the Good Samaritan Society Communities of the Black Hills.
Once completed, St. Martin Village could provide housing for up to 300 people.
"We want to create a neat little sanctuary within the city limits that showcases the rustic elegance of the Black Hills," Kortemeyer said.
Studies by the society have shown that Rapid City needs senior housing, he said. Many seniors have migrated from smaller rural areas to Rapid City because of the availability of health care services.
Kortemeyer said a selling point is that the community will have a variety of living arrangements, depending on how much independence and services residents desire.
But he added that one of the hurdles his organization must overcome is that some seniors are interested, "But they're not quite ready for that move yet."
The society purchased the 200-acre campus from the Benedictine Sisters in December 2007. Creating the infrastructure for St. Martin Village started in 2011, and construction on the first senior living twin home began in the spring of 2012.
St. Martin Village is designed for 55-year-olds and older and is open to all faiths, Kortemeyer said.
So far 12 twin homes, which are two separate homes in one structure, have been completed. Twenty of the homes already are occupied. Six more twin homes will be completed this fall, and the foundations for five more are being laid, Kortemeyer said.
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The price for a twin home begins at $267,000, he said, but can go higher depending on choices the owners make.
The community has 50 twin-home lots, he said. Each half is designed for a couple.
St. Martin Village also will include two major care centers: the 42-unit senior housing with services building, called Legacy Place, and the 32-unit assisted-living center, known as Heritage Place.
Heritage Place has been completed and will undergo an inspection by the South Dakota Department of Health on Sept. 24. Provided that goes smoothly, the assisted-living center will be welcoming new residents in the fall, said Diane Speck, director of sales and marketing for the society.
Legacy Place still requires interior-design work, but the structure has been built and is close to being ready for inspection, Speck said.
The apartment building will have amenities including an indoor swimming pool, a wellness center, a game room and a chapel that everyone in the community will have access to, Kortemeyer said.
Kortemeyer said St. Martin Village is a tobacco-free community, for health and safety purposes. He acknowledges that some people probably will smoke, but added that the community will try to curb it.
Kortemeyer said some people have expressed confusion about how the society can build an assisted-living center when there has been a moratorium in South Dakota on nursing home construction since the 1980s. He explained that nursing homes and assisted-living centers are not the same thing.
An assisted-living facility is a private apartment that can house the residents’ own furnishings and decorations. Aides and staff members respect the residents' privacy whenever possible and foster an atmosphere of independence and autonomy.
However, shared meals, laundry service and light housekeeping are included. Most assisted-living residents receive custodial help with a limited number of activities, such as dressing, bathing or eating.
Unlike an assisted-living center, a nursing home provides round-the-clock medical attention to senior citizens who need a great deal of help with activities of daily living, have severe cognitive impairment or suffer from debilitating medical problems. A nursing home is meant for people need a much higher level of care, Kortemeyer said.