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Senior facility still wanting for money

An assisted living complex planned for construction in Freeland still has a certain future, even though its construction is nearly two years behind schedule.

Citing difficulties in getting financing to start the $7.7 million project, Jim Mock, Jr., a partner in the company that plans to build and operate the facility, said this week the building will go up -- it's just a matter of when.

Mock said his company, HMH Management, will build the 78-unit assisted-living complex as soon as it finds an investor willing to back the project. Since last year, Mock said, lenders have been unable or unwilling to float loans on senior housing projects, keeping the HMH project stuck in square one.

"That set us way back," Mock said Monday.

Mock and his father and business partner, Jim Mock, Sr., announced their plans to build the assisted living facility in September 2000. At the time, the two men expected that construction would be finished by 2002.

The facility is part of a larger senior housing development called Maple Ridge. In addition to assisted living, Maple Ridge was planned to have 41 condominiums and a small business district. The overall cost of the entire Maple Ridge development was originally estimated to be about $14 million.

The condominiums were finished earlier this year and a number of people have already moved into Maple Ridge. Erl Bangston, the developer who built the units and is still selling them, said those who have already moved in are looking forward to the completion of the Mocks' part of the project.

"They're all anxious for it to get started," he said.

Marge Running, a former Useless Bay Shores resident who moved to Maple Ridge in May, said she expects to need the assisted living facility in the future. Having recently suffered a stroke, she is not certain how soon she will need the facility, but the promise of its construction was one of the reasons she decided to buy a home at Maple Ridge.

"What we thought is that it would be so perfect," she said.

Running said she understands why the project is on hold, but hopes to see construction workers on the job as soon as possible.

Another Maple Ridge resident, Shirley Raymond, said the assisted living facility was not a priority for her when she moved in last March. But, she said, she has been looking forward to participating in dance classes in the common rooms designed into the two buildings the Mocks expect to build.

Having recently turned 89, Raymond also acknowledges that it would be nice to have assisted living as an option as soon as possible.

"If it becomes necessary, I may have to," she said.

Mock said HMH is pursuing a number of financing options, but still cannot plan a start date on the project. The company does have approved permits for the assisted living facility, so construction could begin soon after HMH has financing.

The Mocks already have a track record in the senior care arena. They finished building an assisted care facility in Anacortes in 2000 that boasts 84 assisted living units and 44 skilled nursing units.

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