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Forty-five years ago Westminster Manor introduced a new concept of retirement living in Austin, Texas, by combining the privacy of apartment homes with the services of a 24-hour, on-site health center. Located on 9.3 acres in a residential neighborhood, Westminster Manor residents reside in an environment focused on a active lifestyle and wellness.
Founded by a small Austin church with a century-old history of leadership in social services, the church recognized the need for retirees to continue to lead active lives with the security of health care if needed. Managed and marketed by Life Care Services (an LCS company), Westminster Manor is a not-for-profit corporation that is guided under the leadership of a local Board of Directors.
Westminster Manor embarked on an expansion project to completely replace their health center, offer assisted-living options, and add 75 new senior living apartments at almost double the size of their existing apartments while including more modern amenities. The new health center, named The Arbour at Westminster Manor, features 55 skilled nursing rooms with the latest medical advancements to meet senior health needs, 30 skilled nursing suites with a focus on memory support, and 22 assisted living apartments.
The expansion project stemmed primarily from the need to replace the out dated health center. The community also was anxious to secure assisted living apartments as well as larger independent living units that would help pay for improvements to the health center.
One of the project’s first hurdles was securing financing. While never an easy task, the economic downturn facing Austin (as well as much of the country in 2009) forced Westminster Manor to get resourceful to obtain the $100 Million needed for the project.
A comprehensive bank RFP was issued and the Westminster Manor board considered presentations by several banks. Cain Brothers Investment Banking presented a creative plan that included three stages of funding: The first $23 million stemmed from the sale of bank-qualified bonds. Westminster Manor also received a $10.6 million line of credit for construction. The last phase of financing came from the issuance of approximately $66 million in tax-exempt municipal bonds from the Travis County Health Facilities Development Corp. A successful presale campaign allowed Westminster Manor to secure financing, with 95% of the new residences reserved.
The board then selected the best time to enter the construction market, when steel and concrete were at some of their lowest levels, and interest rates were at record lows as well. Their flexibility in the timeline allowed Westminster Manor to save millions of dollars in overall costs.
As Westminster Manor Executive Director Brian Robbins says, “It is better to plan and not do something than to not start the process at all. We understood that planning costs money, and at any time our board would have stopped moving forward if it became detrimental to the community. Since we had our plans in place we were ready to execute when market conditions were right.”
With the recent opening of the apartments and new health center, phase two work now begins to demolish the old health center and complete additional amenities which will include a bistro, arts and crafts studio, expanded library, exercise studio, pool, and the enlarged, renovated Harris Bell Hall Auditorium.
According to Robbins, clear communication with the residents was critical to their success. Residents were kept informed of the processes and strategies for the expansion project with a focus on the end goal of providing a state of the art health center and more common spaces in the community.
For more information, contact Rich Seibert at LCS.