ST. JOSEPH - St. Joseph has given the green light for a new senior apartment building in town.

Fortitude Senior Living will be in Graceview Estates, south of East Baker Street. The three-story, 40,000 square foot building will have 47-units. Owner Tom Opatz says they hope to complete the facility by next May or June.

The City Council gave final approval for the project on Monday night.

Apartment units will range from 400-1100 square feet and will include full kitchens and private bathrooms. Residents can select services like medication administration, help with bathing, assistance with transportation, 24 hour on-site nursing staff and assistance with grooming and daily activities.

City administrator Judy Weyrens says last month the city council approved a tax-increment financing request for up to 14 years with a present day value of about $530,000 and a 4.49 percent interest rate. The facility is TIF eligible because 20 percent of the apartments are meant for seniors who don't have financial means to pay privately.

Some residents in the surrounding neighborhood voiced concerns with the development, specifically with the building being three stories tall and the largest building in the area. A request was previously brought to the planning commission to deny the project and move forward with a two-story building instead. There were also a few concerned with any impacts the facility could have on surrounding property values.

However, Opatz told the city council that the three story building saves them costs and is a convenient design for seniors with mobility issues. He also told the council that if the project fell through, they would look to other cities like Avon or Waite Park for the development.

Ultimately, the council approved the project through a 3-2 vote.

Weyrens says the St. Joseph community has long requested senior housing in town. Residents who voiced support for the project say St. Joseph has been losing senior residents to surrounding communities like St. Cloud due to a lack of selection in town.

Another senior living option is still planning to come to St. Joseph. Earlier this year, Country Manor, presented a plan for a senior living campus off County Road 121, west of Kennedy Community School. Weyrens says they're still going through a tax abatement process and are still hoping to break ground this summer.

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