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Posted on Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 5:49 a.m.

Senior housing, nursing care developments in the works in Washtenaw County as senior population rises

By Juliana Keeping


Construction is under way to expand The Manor at Glacier Hills Senior Living Community. It's one of several senior housing expansions in the works in Washtenaw County..

Angela J. Cesere |

June Bennett moved to Ann Arbor from her Florida home of 30 years with her husband, Buck. They arrived at Glacier Hills, a sprawling senior living compound in northeast Ann Arbor, in 2002.

They live in an apartment complex on the 34-acre Glacier Hills campus called The Meadows, an independent living facility for seniors. There weren’t long wait lists when the Bennetts first arrived — but there are now.

A new neighbor in The Meadows waited four years for the right apartment there, Bennett said.

The high demand for housing and care is why Glacier Hills Senior Living Community is in the midst of a $25 million expansion that broke ground in June 2010. The compound is situated off of Earhart Road in Ann Arbor.

Glacier Hills, a non-profit that opened in Ann Arbor in 1973, is packed to the gills. Almost everything there has a wait list, said, Gerie Greenspan, associate director of development. That is especially true for assisted living.

Based on demographic projections, the local demand for senior living and care in Washtenaw County can only go one direction: up. It's already touching off a flurry of new construction for senior housing and nursing care.

In 2011, the first members of the Baby Boomer generation are turning 65, signaling the start of a major demographic shift. In Washtenaw County, some 35,000 residents are over 65. In a decade, there will be 57,000 seniors in the county, a projected 16 percent of the population, according to a data analyst with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Locally, shortages already exist in areas of senior care.

According to the state program charged with tracking access to health care facilities throughout the state, there aren’t enough beds at nursing homes to meet the demand. The deficit in beds stood at 79 in May for the county’s 11 nursing home facilities, according to the latest bed inventory report by Certificate of Need, a state regulatory program administered by the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Today, about 180 residents live at Glacier Hills, but the organization’s care and rehabilitation center serves over 1,200 individuals per year, Greenspan said.

The expansion and improvements at Glacier Hills will include a new 60,000-square-foot care and rehabilitation center, and renovations to the main Manor building.

Glacier Hills is also expanding with a $2.5 million memory care center, which will open in 2013 to address the growing number of seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Glacier Hills isn’t the only company poised to address the growing need for care for the aging population in Washtenaw County.

A senior housing and care boom is underway here, with multiple multimillion-dollar projects opening up, under construction and in the early planning stages in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Saline, Dexter, Whitmore Lake and elsewhere.

Among them:

  • In Ann Arbor, a Louisville, KY, company is eyeing an undeveloped piece of land along South Maple Road between West Liberty Street to the north and Scio Church Road for a 60-bed health care center. Paul Plevyak, of Trilogy Healthcare, said the Washtenaw Health Campus would include assisted living and residential care.
  • Chelsea Retirement Community has submitted plans to the state to add an $8 million, two-story, 19-bed wing to the east side of its facility, said John Thornhauer, the CEO of United Methodist Retirement Communities, Inc., a nonprofit. “We’re really doing this to meet the needs of our future customers,” he said. “There’s high demand for our services now.”

    And in the future, more expansion is planned to accommodate demand expected in the next decade for the 85-bed facility that serves about 425 residents on its campus. “Were looking at upgrades to assisted living and independent living down the road,” he said. The company also opened Cedars of Dexter, an upscale independent living community in Dexter geared toward the active senior, in the spring of 2010.

  • In Saline, a Grand Haven developer wants to build a $12.5 million, 100-unit senior housing facility at 7605 N. Maple Road. And Evangelical Homes of Michigan is expanding its Saline nursing home facility by taking over empty space at the next-door hospital operated by St. Joseph Mercy Health System.
  • A $5.2 million addition could be on the way at Northfield Place, 8633 North Main St., in Whitmore Lake, which is operated by Southfield-based for-profit Ciena Healthcare. The company has asked the state permission to build a 35,000-square-foot addition that would add 79 beds to the 135-bed facility.
  • At Glacier Hills, the Life Enrichment Center, a facility for memory care, is expected to open in 2013.

Jean Crump, who lives at The Manor at Glacier Hills, moved to an apartment in 2006, a few years after the death of her husband. She doesn’t need assistance now, but it’s close by if she does. That gives her, and her children, peace of mind, she said.

“I’m glad I came here,” she said. “It’s not exactly a home as I knew it, but it’s home.”

Juliana Keeping covers general assignment and health and the environment for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter


Interim HealthCare

Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Good quality care does come at a price. While not cheap, I have found Glacier Hills to be a high quality facility that is priced appropriately. This is a non-profit facility. Many people have been fortunate to accumulate some money during their careers so they do not need to rely of government programs and can pay for a facility like Glacier Hills. For others, there are Medicaid facilities. And in-between there is home care.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Some people have actually saved for retirement and beyond, and can afford to live in a nice place when the time comes. And Ann Arbor is a good place for seniors to live, with culture and good medical facilities. And they are spending their money here locally, as you can't outsource nursing care. I, for one, welcome faciloities like this in our community.


Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

With the number of seniors on the rise, who is going to pay for them? They don't pay State income tax, they get social security and medicare. Where does all of this money come from?

zip the cat

Sun, Jun 19, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

The average senior citizen can not afford to live in places like glacier hills. Sounds like another money grab like the one they built west of dexter. Better get a good lawyer and read the fine print before getting hoodwinked into something you can't afford. Looks good on paper but at what cost?