Passavant Retirement Community in Zelienople cuts ribbon on $57 million project

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The Passavant Retirement Community in Zelienople — soon to be known as the Lutheran SeniorLife Passavant Community — is exchanging its crown jewel for one that is both bigger and better by a range of measurements.

The finishing touches are being applied to a $57 million centerpiece building that is nearly double the size of its existing Olde Main. The building will feature new accoutrement as well as a homier approach to the care of the 150 or so people who live in the new building on the 42-acre campus just off Main Street.

Laura Roy, executive director, said it’s the largest project in the community’s century-long history.

The Passavant community is a complex of some 500 residents who live in a range of settings that run from single-family cottages to independent living apartments. Some live in residential units that provide personal care and skilled nursing care.

The new building will encompass 226,000 square feet, compared to 137,000 square feet in the existing Olde Main, which was built more than a 100 years ago and has been rehabilitated several times over the years. Ms. Roy said continued renovation wasn’t in the cards.

Lutheran SeniorLife, the parent company of Passavant, was ready to build a new centerpiece that a reflects a priority on giving residents an even keener sense of community, regardless of which living style they select on the Passavant campus.

The new building will have three floors with:

• 20 residential apartments for independent living with light support of housekeeping or meals.

• 34 personal care apartments grouped into two “households” of 18 and 16 apartments, respectively. The third-floor grouping is for individuals with memory impairment. In both “households,” personal care services — assistance with daily living needs such as bathing and dressing — are provided.

• 102 skilled nursing beds spread among three floors and grouped in six total “households.” Each household has 17 residents. In all, there are 96 private rooms and three semi-private suites, one per floor. Ms. Roy said each household is “separate and distinct,” with its own family and living areas, dining room, and kitchen. Those who live in these rooms needs support 24-hours-per-day.

• A first-floor of “abundant life space” created to reflect the Main Street of a small town with attractions that include an art studio, a library, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a game room, a conference center and three restaurant-styled dining venues in addition to offices.

Construction has been underway for more than two years. Infrastructure improvements started in 2011 with the new building being planted in 2012. A ceremony marking the project will be held June 4, though Ms. Roy said it will be another eight months or more before all licensing and permit work is finished and the building can be occupied.

The Passavant campus has some 117 buildings. The six largest buildings include five apartment buildings and the Olde Main, which houses skilled nursing beds, administrative offices and a community center. It will be razed when the new replacement building is ready for occupancy.

“Our number of residents will stay about the same. What we’re really doing here is a rebalancing of our community. We’ve been more heavily weighted on the health care — skilled nursing and personal care — side. Our project will add a little more to the residential (independent living) side,” she said.

As important as the new building is, Ms. Roy said the community gains more than just an updated structure with a swimming pool and new restaurants.

“We’ve done as much as we could do with Old Main to make it as homelike as possible, but we’ve been limited in our ability to do what we want to do,” she said. “It was built at a time when expectations were different. What we’re doing now is creating spaces that give a greater sense of home to people.”

Karen Kane: or 724-772-9180.

Karen Kane: or at 724-772-9180.

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