KindCare is starting work in Bristol on what it promotes as an assisted-living complex geared toward the middle-income elderly, and expects to begin renting to 117 tenants by the spring of 2023.
The five-story building will be the start of what Chief Executive Officer Mark De Pecol envisions as a chain of centers offering standard assisted living apartments along with special memory care sections.
The company last fall got zoning approval to build a similar project in Naugatuck, a three-story building with 124 units. KindCare also is pursuing sites in Berlin and Manchester.
“This will be our flagship,” De Pecol said Tuesday at his construction site at the southwestern corner of North Main Street and Farmington Avenue. “We can be the Hampton Inn of assisted living.”
KindCare is designing its buildings with nearly all “companion care” units, the industry’s term for a shared apartment.
“The unit has two people in it. They each have their own private bedroom, but they share a living room, kitchenette and bathroom.” he said. “In this way, we can reduce the size of the building. A regular assisted living facility would have 600 square feet and one person; we have 600 square feet and two people.
“But all of the high-end amenities that are in the luxury communities, we have — the library, the arts and crafts rooms, the wellness room, a full restaurant and a bistro beside the restaurant,” he told city officials, investors and others at the groundbreaking ceremony.
KindCare is a brand of Fairfield-based Senior Living Development, which has built assisted living centers in mostly affluent communities including Darien, Simsbury, Fairfield and Wilton.
KindCare was created when SLD’s founders concluded the middle class is largely left out of high-end assisted living centers, where monthly rents can hit $7,000 and often don’t include many day-to-day services.
“Our brand is unique. We are luxury affordable assisted living,” he said, adding that most assisted living communities are built for upper-income residents.
Seniorliving.org rates Connecticut as having the fifth-highest cost in the United States for assisted living, averaging $6,300 a month. Only Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire and New Jersey top that.
“About three years ago my partners and I decided we should come up with an assisted living product that’s affordable to the middle class,” he said.
The plan is for monthly rents of $4,500 at the Bristol center, with a higher charge for people in the memory care unit. Those rates also cover numerous care services that are usually billed separately, he added. In the end, the cost should be 20 to 30 percent lower than what a standard assisted living center charges, he said.
Mayor Jeff Caggiano applauded that philosophy, saying affordable extended care is important.
“This is a middle class, blue-collar town,” Caggiano said at the ceremony.
The city has authorized a 60-unit building; KindCare expects it will be substantially complete by March of 2023.
The design puts all amenities on the first floor. KindCare will rent out apartments on the second, fourth and fifth floor to people 62 and older who need daily assistance. The third floor is reserved for those with Alzheimer’s or other memory disorders.
KindCare negotiated the project initially with then-Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, but progress stalled when the pandemic hit. De Pecol said the delay was partly beneficial. Engineers have had time to design an ultraviolet system to treat all air as it recirculates through the building, he said.
When it’s standing, the building will be the gateway to downtown from the north, said Caggiano, who predicted more new construction in the city’s center this year.
“This is the beginning of what you’re going to see downtown,” Caggiano said.
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