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Care facility may have a buyer

Residents of the Village at Maple Ridge in Freeland are anxious for a proposed assisted care facility to be built. Some believe they have waited long enough.

The facility was to have been built and opened by 2002, according to the initial plans publicized by its developers. It was to be built as part of a two stage development that included the senior-only housing at Maple Ridge — built by Freeland developer Erl Bangston — and the assisted living facility. But now, in 2004, some of people who moved into the senior housing at Maple Ridge are ready to move on to assisted living and cannot go to the facility they believe they were promised.

Bob and Bessie Sanders, who moved to Maple Ridge in 2002, are running out of patience, along with many of their neighbors. The Sanders say they moved in with the understanding that an assisted care complex would be built on property adjacent to the development. But thus far, the site of the proposed facility at Scott and Newman roads is just a mound of dirt, screened from view by the long-finished senior condominiums.

Still, there may be reason for the Sanders to be hopeful. This month, the developers of the assisted living facility, Jim Mock, Sr. and Jim Mock, Jr. of HMH Properties in Langley, are saying they have a buyer for the property will build what they promised. However, they were unwilling this week to disclose the name of the buyer. A caveat of the purchase agreement states that the new buyer will make the announcement at his or her convenience, according to the Mocks.

The reason the facility has not been built, say the Mocks, is purely financial. Citing difficulties in getting financing to start the $7.7 million project, Jim Mock, Jr., said his company was forced to put the property up for sale. Mock said he and his father had planned to build a 78-unit assisted-living complex as soon as they could find investors willing to back the project.

“But a downturn in the economy following Sept. 11. 2001 made it impossible to get the financing we needed for the project,” Mock said.

Bangston, who has sold all of the units he built at Maple Ridge, said he understands the residents’ impatience.

“I want to see it built as much as they do,” he said. “All I can say now is that there is a sale.”

Bob Sanders said he hopes it’s true, but said he and his wife have been told for two years that the Mocks have a buyer. They remain skeptical.

“I just wish we would get a call from Erl telling us things are glued together,” he said.

Sanders says he feels sympathy for the Mocks, but noted that sympathy will not get the assisted living facility built.

The Mocks obtained permits for the project. According to Island County Planning and Community Development, the building permit expires in October 2005.

Planner Jeff Tate said the building does not have to be completed by then, but construction must begin prior to that date.Tate also said that under county code, a new owner could request an extension on the permit.

The planned community was completed in 2002, and most of the 41 townhouses were quickly sold mostly to local seniors wanting to downsize from bigger homes. Sanders said he and his wife looked at several other retirement communities but chose Maple Ridge because they wanted to stay on the Whidbey Island and because it would offer an assisted care facility as well.

“If one of us becomes incapacitated, we would be close and able to walk over and see each other,” he said.

Other amenties promised for the facility included common rooms, exercise options such as dance classes and a dining room open to all Maple Ridge residents.

Sanders says he has contacted several attorneys and state agencies about the matter. But he hasn’t taken it any further.

“I talk to Erl like a Dutch uncle and tell him we need to get this off center and moving,” he said. “The discouraging thing is we are all gray hairs; we’ve done our battles.”

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