​Arcadia Continues Developer Search

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

After narrowing the search down to two developers, Arcadia at Sewanee remains without a company to build or operate a senior living facility in Sewanee.
Developers have yet to buy into the idea that Sewanee can support a senior living residence, concerned the relatively remote area doesn’t have the needed demographics, said Lane Price, Arcadia Board of Trustees vice president.
“It’s been very, very hard to get a commercial developer that really doesn’t know one thing about the Mountain to understand the Mountain,” she said.
While acknowledging that Arcadia will be a very expensive project, Price said what developers don’t understand is that it is not only the surrounding three-county area that factors into supporting a facility, but elderly alumnae who want to return to Sewanee and aging professors who’d like to stay but need extra care.
Price, who spoke briefly during a Village plan update meeting on June 5 at the Blue Chair Tavern, said she is optimistic that Arcadia will come to fruition and the project is moving forward, albeit slowly.
“Arcadia is not floundering, it is going to work,” she said. “We thought we had some developers who were really interested, then it kind of slacks off.”
The working plan for Arcadia is to begin small with an assisted living facility with memory care, Price noted, and then potentially move into the more complex and challenging operation of long-term care.
The board had previously thinned potential developers to two companies, but were unable to reach an agreement this spring. Linda Lankewicz, former Arcadia board president and current secretary, said in May that finding a developer to construct a facility may not be the main issue.
“Perhaps our biggest challenge is finding that operator,” she said. “There’s a profit to be made in building and then there’s another ongoing, long-term profit from operating and they want to see numbers that are lucrative for their operation.”
Another test is finding a developer willing to steer away from a hospital or traditional nursing home design. Board members have stated a preference for a Green House Project model. According to the Green House Project, that style offers a home-type atmosphere as opposed to a hospital or institutional feel, where residents have individual rooms and can enjoy an open layout with a kitchen, hearth and common dining area, among other comforts.
“These big organizations are looking for something that fits their model,” Lankewicz said. “Their model isn’t necessarily what Sewanee wants.”
She added that the effort to find a developer is a complicated process.
“We have to learn from each of these experiences and try to figure out how to make the pieces fit—and we have so many pieces,” she said.
Note: At its May 20 meeting, the Arcadia board selected new members and made new appointments. Anne Davis and Greg Maloof rotated off the board and Joel Cunningham and Margaret Barton joined Arcadia leadership. The board selected Pete Stringer as president, replacing Lankewicz, who moved to secretary. In addition, the board tabbed Price as vice president, a post previously held by Tom Phelps, who remains on the board. The board also selected Jane Eaves as treasurer.
The Arcadia Board of Trustees formed in May 2016.