Massachusetts-based The Congress Cos. broke ground today on a $60 million, 160-bed skilled nursing facility at 120 Church St. in downtown White Plains, adding skilled nursing beds to an area the company said has a major need for them.
“When things are valuable, they are hard, and this was hard, but very valuable,” said The Congress Cos. CEO William Nicholson, addressing a crowd of employees and public officials at the parking lot where the new White Plains Institute for Rehabilitation and Healthcare will be built.
While he said it’s hard work to get a nursing home built and approved in New York, Nicholson added that the 110,000-square-foot building will be “state of the art.”
“High end, state of the art amenities, finishes, spaces to work, spaces to get better,” Nicholson said. “We are not building your grandmother’s nursing home. We are building the nursing home of today and tomorrow.”
Nicholson told the Business Journal in a phone interview before the groundbreaking that the facility will help serve a clear need for the area.
“When you look at greater White Plains, there is only one other nursing home,” Nicholson said. “In Westchester County, there are very few. And that’s not just Westchester, but in general the nursing home stock in New York and the nation is older and largely populated by ’60s, ’70s and ’80s vintage buildings.”
The White Plains project was initially approved by the city in 2011, but Nicholson said construction had to wait while the company lined up state Department of Health approvals and construction financing.
He described Church Street in downtown White Plains as an attractive location for the facility, with a deep labor force and White Plains Hospital nearby.
“The sum of the pieces is really great,” he said. “All the fundamentals are there for a successful facility.”
The Peabody, Massachusetts, based Congress Cos., which also operates a New York office in Lake Success, specializes in senior living and health care facilities. The second-generation family business has developed more than 100 skilled nursing and assisted living facilties throughout the eastern U.S., including Wingate at Dutchess in Fishkill and Wingate at Beacon.
Designed by The Architectural Team Inc. of Chelsea, Massachusetts, the White Plains facility will offer 76 specialized rehabilitation beds, 42 beds focused on Alzheimer’s care and 42 long-term care beds, each with specially designed nursing units. The property will be operated by Epic Healthcare Management, based in Croton-on-Hudson. Epic’s other rehabilitation and healthcare facilities include Sky View Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Croton-on-Hudson, Water View Hills in Purdys and Middletown Park Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Orange County.
Epic CEO Lizer Jozefovic told the Business Journal that building a new nursing home facility is extremely rare in New York. He described high-end amenities for the facility that include a wraparound dining room with outdoor eating space, underground parking, a first-floor rehabilitation center and outdoor access from all floors.
The company’s management philosophy is to try to design its skilled nursing facilities in the style of luxury hotels rather than second homes, according to Jozefovic. He said that style appeals to the baby boomer generation interested in traveling.
“‘Homelike’ is a nice word, but that’s not an excuse to look like second class; we want it to feel like a hotel that people can feel at home in,” Jozefovic said.
Jozefovic said the facility will likely employ between 160 and 200 full-time and part-time workers. The jobs will include nurses, certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, administrative, rehab and maintenance employees.
Speaking at the groundbreaking, White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach noted the new facility would join a “strong health care component” in the city that includes White Plains Hospital, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester of NewYork-Presbyterian Psychiatry.
“Quality health care for people who need it, nursing care for people who need it, is essential to having a full community,” Roach said. “And to have a state of the art facility here with the reputation of the operators is something we are very proud of.”
Construction will be managed by the joint venture Congress/Consigli JV. Nicholson said construction will take between 20 and 22 months to complete.