Tallmadge -- An expansion project for Heather Knoll Nursing & Rehabilitation Center on North Avenue is still in the works, albeit in a pared down version.

The city's Planning and Zoning Commission voted Aug. 7 to approve a minor modification to the original site plan it approved in 2012 for Sprenger Health Care Systems, the company that owns and operates the facility.

The original two-phase project called for more than doubling the 41,000-square-foot facility by building a skilled nursing addition, an assisted living addition and creating a new dementia unit from existing space at the south end of the building. The revised plans have been scaled down to just the first phase and only includes the skilled nursing portion, which would add 16,000 square feet to the north end of the facility.

Kevin Kauffman, regional administrator for Sprenger Health Care and administrator for Heather Knoll was not at the meeting but told the Tallmadge Express the company decided to drop the assisted living portion of the project because the market is saturated and the company failed to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that was needed to make the project viable.

The revised site plan for the single-story building project, which he now estimates will cost $2 million to $2.5 million, calls for about the same facility footprint with more parking spaces. The entire facility now can accommodate 100 patients, and the construction project will allow it to accommodate an additional 15 patients, Kauffmann said. Suzanne Meltzer of RDL Architects in Shaker Heights represented Sprenger Health Care before the Commission.

"[The plans are] based on what [Sprenger Health Care] wanted to do previously," she said. "We modified the [skilled nursing] addition to work with the number of units that they wanted, but it's essentially the same square footage."

Before construction can begin, the city engineer must approve the stormwater management plans, and landscaping plans will go before the Commission for approval at a later date.

Kauffman has said he expects construction to begin as soon as possible and could last about a year.

"We're excited. We've been excited about this project here for awhile ... ," Kauffmann said.

If the company would like to add the assisted living portion in the future, it would need to come before the Commission again, said Mayor Dave Kline.

Sprenger Health Care Systems employs about 100 workers at Heather Knoll Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Kauffmann said the revised project will enable the company to hire about seven full- and part-time workers in the way of nurses, aides, therapists, activities staff and housekeeping and laundry staff.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

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