Construction to begin on
The Gardens at Whispering Knoll
Construction should begin immediately on The Gardens at Whispering Knoll, a new forty unit assisted living facility on the Davis Life Care Center campus in Pine Bluff according to Joe D. Ratliff, executive director of Davis Life Care. "We started the project more than two years ago, but our financing was stymied due to the Wall Street collapse," Ratliff said.
"Earlier in 2009, we were informed that funds would be released as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and would be available through the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. We applied for funds in July and received notification in mid September that our application was approved and that funds would be released to us in a few weeks. We were notified in October that the funds had been released to us and we started finalizing the project preparation and financing." The expected completion date for the project is December 2010.
The balance of financing for the $4.9 million plus project comes from a loan by Pine Bluff National Bank according to Ratliff. PBNB is very pleased to help with the financing for the Gardens at Whispering Knoll, says Steven Brown, vice president of PBNB. "We believe this worthwhile project provides a great addition to our community, a needed service for our retirees, and helps stimulate economic development in our community."
Since the project was started earlier, all of the preliminary work is done which enables a quick start. This is a ‘shovel-ready’ project, Ratliff said. "It is an ideal application for ARRA funds which were meant to flow into the marketplace quickly."
"The goal of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is to spur economic growth in communities like Pine Bluff during some of the worst economic times since the Great Depression," said U.S. Representative Mike Ross, D-Prescott. "I am pleased to help announce these funds because The Gardens at Whispering Knoll project is a great example of how federal investments should be made - creating jobs and boosting our local economies."
Local officials have also expressed their support and approval of the project The Gardens at Whispering Knoll is a blessing to our community when we need it most, says Jefferson County Judge Mike Holcomb. "It provides affordable, first class housing for retirees and new jobs which are certainly welcome."
The city of Pine Bluff weighed in early in the application process with a letter stating, "The City of Pine Bluff is pleased offer their support to develop an affordable assisted living facility on Hazel Street, there is a continuing need for affordable housing of this kind."
Champion Construction Management of Little Rock is the general contractor. Champion spokesperson Pamela Willis says the company is ready to start construction quickly. "Everything is in place to get this project underway in a very short period of time," Willis said. "It is a perfect fit for our company. We have been building these types of projects for more than 20 years." Willis says the project should be completed and ready for occupancy approximately 12 months from the start date. "Weather permitting," she added.
The 32,600 square foot center will be built next to Whispering Knoll Assisted Living, a forty unit assisted living facility opened on the Davis Life Care Campus in December 2006. This facility will be nearly a mirror image of Whispering Knoll, Ratliff said. The main difference is that The Gardens at Whispering Knoll will have a full-service kitchen which will be shared by both facilities.
Nina Hunt, administrator of Whispering Knoll Assisted Living will be the administrator of The Gardens at Whispering Knoll as well. "We are excited at this news," Hunt said. "Our waiting list is more than 10 months so we expect the new facility will fill quickly."
The facility is designed to have an up-scale home like feel. Features include apartment style living units accessed via a secure interior corridor. Each unit features a kitchenette, full bath with roll-in shower, storage, and separate AC controls.
Amenities include a central dining hall, a small bistro, beauty/barber shop, general store, activity room, library with internet access. A large central living area located near the main entrance and features a double sided gas log fireplace.
"There are several comfortable sitting rooms for visiting with friends. We designed this facility from square one to be an ideal residence for retired people who can live independently but need the supportive environment offered by an assisted living environment," said Dave Sadler of the Nelson Architectural Firm, designers of the project.
Davis Life Care Center in Pine Bluff, is a family of four charitable organizations providing thoughtful care and excellent accommodations for southeast Arkansans’ aging and disabled family members. The care giving organizations are Davis East, Davis West, Garden Pointe Assisted Living and Whispering Knoll Assisted Living. The Gardens at Whispering Knoll will be the fifth care giving unit for Davis Life Care Center.