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Bradford, Vt., Assisted Living Facility on Track to Open in December

  • Jose Nevarez, of RCM Modular, works on the Margaret Pratt Community building in Bradford, Vt., on Sept. 14, 2018. The assisted living and memory care facility plans to open in December. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • In what will be a common room and kitchen, Damon Parker of MEI Electrical Contractors & Systems Integrators bends conduit at the Margaret Pratt Community building in Bradford, Vt., on Sept. 14, 2018. The assisted living and memory care facility plans to open in December. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • Zach Shephard is the executive director of the Margaret Pratt Community in Bradford, Vt. The assisted living facility plans to open in December of 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/14/2018 11:46:58 PM
Modified: 9/15/2018 12:49:15 AM

Bradford, Vt. — After Brookside Nursing Home on Bradford’s Upper Plain closed in the early 2000s, it took the non-profit Enhanced Living Inc. more than a decade to raise seed funding, secure land and clear legal challenges for new senior housing in town.

But now that the project finally has received its necessary permits and approvals, progress has been much swifter — a change that has been welcomed by many Bradford-area residents who say the need for senior housing in the area is acute.

Margaret Pratt Community, a 32-apartment, 48-bed assisted-living and memory care home on Plateau Acres, has a fully constructed shell. The $11.3 million facility is slated to take in its first residents on Dec. 14.

“We’re right on schedule,” said Rebecca Stearns, chief operating officer of Grand Senior Living, a Charlotte, Vt.-based provider of senior services that Enhanced Living has contracted to manage the facility. “The construction has been really interesting to watch since we broke ground in April.”

A series of modular components built by a Quebec City-based construction company, the building has been configured, in a sense, from the top down.

“There are 48 modular pieces in total that all came in on individual trucks, and for a while we were known as the shortest building in town,” Stearns said. “The roof sections came in first and then cranes lifted them up to connect the lower sections underneath. It went up in 10 days.”

Siding, interior sheet rock and all finishing touches should be completed by late November, when the company plans to begin training staff for the opening several weeks later. The cream-colored building will include 24 assisted-living apartments and eight memory-care apartments, with monthly rates ranging from $5,395 for a single-bedroom assisted-living apartment to $8,695 for a two-bedroom memory care suite.

Perched atop a hill adjacent to a cul-de-sac neighborhood, the 3.5-acre property features views of a nearby rock quarry and New Hampshire mountains to the east. Common areas include a hair salon, walking path, screened porch and game room, and the company says it will provide daily activities and transportation services.

Most importantly for members of the all-volunteer Enhanced Living group, Margaret Pratt will fill a void left when Brookside Nursing Home closed in 2004. It finally will realize the vision of the late James Barton, a dentist and entrepreneur who 14 years ago accepted a charge by the Bradford Selectboard to develop a plan for senior housing in town. Barton died in 2015.

The 35,000-square-foot facility’s namesake, Margaret Pratt, was a Bradford native, first-grade teacher and strawberry farmer who lived to age 98 and whose family made significant donations to the project.

“When Brookside closed, a lot of senior citizens had to move into places in St. Johnsbury, the Barre area and places in New Hampshire,” said Enhanced Living President Eileen Bolander, whose organization owns both the building and land. “It got to be a burden for family members to visit their loved ones, especially in the wintertime.”

The project survived a legal challenge by residents on Plateau Acres, who appealed several development permits, arguing the building would be “shocking and offensive” to the character of the neighborhood. In June 2016, a Vermont Environmental Court judge ruled in favor of developers, who adjusted the building’s lighting and made other concessions to neighbors.

“It’s been a long time coming to get to where we are now, about 14 years, in fact,” said Bolander, whose group raised 10 percent of the project’s development costs primarily through private donations. “We had to be very persistent, but here we are.”

The vast majority of the remaining funding for the project came via loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Thirteen prospective residents have made deposits for apartments at Margaret Pratt, according to Grand Senior Living CEO Dan Hassan, and more than 100 others have expressed interest, Stearns said. Hassan said developers hope to have the building at capacity within three months of opening.

“These projects are typically, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ and they get filled one bedroom at a time,” Hassan said. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the market reaction so far.”

Bolander said the community response has been positive, including feedback from patrons of the nearby Orange East Senior Center, which hosts daily luncheons and an array of activities for senior citizens.

“Every (prospective resident) I’ve spoken to about it has expressed interest,” Bolander said. “I’ve talked to people from a lot of different places who are excited about it, from as far north as Ryegate (Vt.) and as far south as Lyme. Folks from Fairlee, Piermont, Bradford, Newbury, Corinth, East Corinth — it seems like a fairly large area will be serviced by this facility.”

Margaret Pratt Community will have 32 full-time employees, Stearns said, including management, administration, housekeeping, dining and nursing positions. Littleton, N.H., resident Zach Shephard has been named its first executive director, and a sales and marketing director also has been hired.

For prospective residents, Margaret Pratt could be a less expensive option than The Village at White River Junction, which originally intended to open this month, but has experienced construction-related delays. Now slated to take in its first residents in late October, monthly rates at The Village — whose amenities include a rooftop dog park and on-site cinema and tavern — will range from $8,400 to $10,700.

“Every senior living facility is different and we all have our own niche,” Shephard said. “We’re in a little bit of a less expensive area, and one of the goals of Margaret Pratt has always been to have an affordable pricing model.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




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