Senior housing company wants to build in south Sioux Falls

Update: The Planning Commission approved the rezoning. The City Council will consider the request in April.

March 6, 2019

An Omaha-based senior housing company hopes to build its first South Dakota project in Sioux Falls.

Tonight, the City Planning Commission will consider a request from Essex Communities to rezone land on the southeast corner of 85th Street and Western Avenue.

Essex wants to build a three-story apartment building with approximately 80 units for residents 55 and older. A second phase of the project would include a building with about 40 units.

Essex was drawn to the state because South Dakotans’ values are similar to those of the company, and people here are friendly, said Frankie Pane, executive vice president. “It’s a market where we understand each other.”

Mike McGillick, Essex’s president, was born in Brookings and spent some of his childhood years in South Dakota. His goal has been to expand to the state, Pane said.

The senior living company owns and manages 10 communities in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado and Illinois, and has three more in development. In its 43 years in businesses, Essex has developed about 50 communities, but it sold off properties in states such as Arizona because of operating challenges, Pane said. “Now, we like to stick close to home.”

In Sioux Falls, the final number of units for the project would be determined after holding focus groups to understand what size of apartments are in demand, Pane said.

“We’ve been doing it for 43 years and have a pretty good idea of what people want, but every community is different,” he said.

Rental rates would be set once final construction plans are in place, Pane said. The goal is to be within or lower than the market pricing for the area.

“We don’t want vacant units,” he said. “I’m happiest when we have a two-year wait list.”

Essex properties feature activity programs and have a fitness center. Residents are treated to a continental breakfast on weekday mornings, and an optional weekday evening dining program is available. The apartments have full kitchens, and residents typically enjoy going out to eat at restaurants in the community, Pane said.

“One of our hallmarks is we like our residents to be as active and have as much freedom as possible.”

Essex doesn’t offer assisted living or memory care services but will refer residents to preferred providers in the community that can help them stay in their homes longer, Pane said.

According to the current plan, the project would have underground parking with a surface lot along Western and 87th Street, allowing the property to have more trees and grass. That helps with drainage issues and fits better into the residential neighborhood, Pane said.

If the City Planning Commission and City Council approve the project, construction would start in late fall, with an opening in spring 2021.

Editor’s note: Essex Communities does offer an optional meal program. Information in the article was incorrect when it was first published.

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Senior housing company wants to build in south Sioux Falls

An Omaha-based senior housing company hopes to build its first South Dakota project in Sioux Falls.

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