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Developer Plans Senior Community Next Door to New London Hospital

  • An artist's rendering shows New London Place, a proposed 139-unit senior living community located next to New London Hospital, which closed its nursing home two years ago. The new facility will not include nursing care but is slated to include independent, assisted living and memory care options. (Courtesy Continuum Health Services)



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2019

New London — More than two years after New London Hospital shuttered its nursing home, a Maine developer is preparing to build a senior living community on land adjacent to the hospital.

Though the new 139-unit community, to be named New London Place and located on County and Parkside roads, will not include nursing care, it is slated to include independent, assisted living and memory care options.

Part of the driving force behind hospital officials’ efforts to reach out to Lewiston, Maine-based Continuum Health Services was the fact that aging residents of the New London area have found they needed to move away when they were ready to downsize or when they needed some assistance with activities such as meals and house cleaning, New London Hospital CEO Bruce King said.

“Wouldn’t it be nice for the community to retain these folks?” King said.

Though there already are a couple of assisted living and senior living communities in New London — which has a population of about 4,500 people — New London Town Planner Adam Ricker said, “I don’t think it goes far enough.”

“Like the rest of the state, we have an aging population,” he said.

In New London, the median age is about 45, and 54 percent of households include people over the age of 65, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income was about $72,000 in 2017.

The senior living community, which already has received site plan approval from New London’s Planning Board and a zoning variance from the Zoning Board, is slated to consist of a four-level main lodge containing rental and condominium units. Twenty of these would be memory care units, 47 assisted living and 39 independent living, according to the Planning Board approval issued last month. The community also would include 33 cottage-style condos for independent living.

Amenities would include walking trails, a pickleball court, theater, tavern, card area, billiard room, art studio, cafe and dining room, according to Sarah Adams, Continuum’s director of sales and marketing. It also will be family- and pet-friendly.

Continuum currently operates four other senior living communities in Maine, including Sentry Hill in York, Gorham House in Gorham, Clover Health Care in Auburn and Durgin Pines in Kittery.

New London Place would be Continuum’s first development in New Hampshire, but it will be modeled on the development in York, Adams said.

Though prices are not yet available for the New London development, Adams said rental prices in York range from about $4,900 per month for independent plus, which includes assistance with medication, to about $8,200 per month for higher levels of assisted living and memory care, including help with bathing, toileting and behavior management.

Ownership options in York depend on the square footage of the unit, but range in price from $200,000 to $500,000, Adams said.

She cautioned that these prices are for a different community in a different state and are current, whereas the New London development has not yet broken ground.

So far, interest in New London seems strong, Adams said.

More than 75 people so far have put down a $1,000 refundable deposit in order to be a member of the “compass club,” she said. As such, members are the first in line to learn about pricing, floor plans and availability once that information is available this spring.

“It’s remarkable,” she said.

King compared the new development with fellow Dartmouth-Hitchcock affiliate Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital’s Harvest Hill and the Woodlands, which are independent and assisted living facilities that sit on the Lebanon hospital’s campus and are owned by APD. One key difference, however, is that New London Hospital will not have an ownership stake in the project.

Instead, New London Hospital will sell approximately 43 acres to Continuum, which will construct and own the development.

“This is their project,” King said.

King declined to provide the planned sale price but said it would be equal to the appraised value. The total 50-acre property, of which the hospital plans to retain about 7 acres, is assessed by the town at a value of about $720,000.

In addition to the proceeds from the sale, the project also will benefit the hospital by offering it a chance to partner with its neighbor on things such as food service and grounds management, King predicted. In addition, he said he expects that the hospital will be conveniently located to provide medical care to the new community’s residents.

Another issue the hospital and Continuum may work to address together is the need for workers, King said. Once open, Continuum expects to employ about 80 workers. The hospital employs about 600.

“The notion is we don’t want to be competing with each other,” King said.

Employees could work in both places, he noted.

To help support such workers, Continuum has discussed the idea of building new workforce housing with town officials, Ricker said. Though Continuum hasn’t yet filed any plans for workforce housing with the town, the region as a whole is short about 5,000 such units.

The workforce shortage “clearly is a concern for us and them,” King said.

Adams, however, described the housing discussions as “very preliminary” and said Continuum has found workforce success by taking care of its employees at its Maine locations.

The permitting process for New London Place has not inspired much opposition from neighbors. But Rhonda Tinkham, property manager for the nearby condo association, Lyon Brook Community Association, said Lyon Brook residents are hoping that the new project will fit in with the character of the area.

Though close to downtown New London, Tinkham said the area is largely rural.

“That’s the only downside that we can see is that, obviously, there’s not going to be the foliage cover that we enjoy,” she said.

Tinkham said she is working with the developers to address Lyon Brook residents’ concerns about “lighting and noise and that sort of thing.”

The zoning variance, approved last July, allows for the construction of the main building, which is slated to be 47 feet tall, above the typically allowed maximum of 35 feet.

Still-pending permits include a subdivision permit from the town, which would allow the sale of the 43 acres from the hospital to go through. Also required are alteration of terrain and wetlands permits from the Department of Environmental Services, as well as approval from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

Continuum plans to break ground sometime this year and expects to complete construction in 2½ years, Adams said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.