Shovels Turn for $12.4M Assisted Living Project

POLAND, Ohio – The Inn at Poland Way on Center Road will not only fill a need for the elderly but fit perfectly in the township where it’s being built, township trustees say.

Mahoning County commissioners and community leaders joined trustees and representatives of the developer of the $12.4 million project to break ground Tuesday morning on the assisted living center at the 6.5-acre site, just east of Clingan Road on U.S. Route 224 (VIDEO).

The center, which will have 89 units, 64 assisted living apartments and a dedicated 25-unit memory care wing, is being developed by EDM Management Inc. and Briarfield Health Care Centers, which EDM principals acquired in 2003. Briarfield now operates six assisted living centers in the region.

The center “fits right in because it’s not one of those hustle-and-bustle businesses,” township Trustee Robert Lidle remarked.

“It’s going to blend very well into the community. It serves a great purpose for our elderly residents,” he added. The township, as is happening nationally, has an aging population and “certainly this is something that we really don’t have much of in the Poland area” outside the Sunrise center at the Interstate 680-Route 224 interchange, he said.

“This is what the township needs. You hear all about the graying of America,” said Lidle’s fellow trustee, Joanne Wollet. “This is a first-class operator and this will be a first-class facility.”

Discussion about the project began a couple of years ago “like many multimillion-dollar projects” do, at a bocce tournament, Ed Reese, CEO of Briarfield and EDM, said.

On behalf of the owners, David Kosec, an independent economic development consultant, had suggested the 6.5-acre plat to Reese as a development site, Reese recalled. After driving by, he had “a good feeling” about the property but banks “don’t go by gut feelings,” he said.

A subsequent study identified strong demand for such a center. “This is our third one we’ve developed and the need, on the demographic side, has been the most demanding we had for all three facilities,” Reese continued.

Designed by Strollo Architects, Youngstown, the general contractor for the project is A.P. O’Horo Co. Once the Inn at Poland Way is completed, Briarfield will manage 298 assisted living units and 224 skilled nursing beds throughout Mahoning County, according to a company news release.

The contractor has set a target completion date in late fall 2016, said Tom Metzinger, vice president at O’Horo.

“It will depend on the weather this winter,” he said. The building pad is ready and the contractor is preparing to install the footers.

“It’s a wonderful site,” Metzinger noted. “The soils are excellent and there’s a lot of room here to work.”

Once it’s operating, the Inn at Poland Way will have a staff of 50 full-time equivalent employees.

Amenities will include 55,000 square feet of living space, a large lobby, central courtyard, concierge service and private dining room for special occasions.

The assisted living concept has become “much more like a hospitality facility,” Reese said. “That means nice dining areas, increased lobby space, activity units that are more for the assisted living resident who could do more, and we’re happy to include that in this project,” he said.

In conjunction with the Home Savings and Loan Co., the Western Reserve Port Authority is financing the project.

The developers also are participating in a lease buyback program through the port authority that “allows them to save some dollars, which hopefully was a part of putting the project over the top,” remarked John Moliterno, WRPA executive director.

“Part of our role as an economic development entity is to help make it as easy as possible to assist these developers in moving these projects along. Sometimes they talk about projects for years but they wait for the right deal and the right opportunities to come,” Moliterno said. “Our role is to try to facilitate that, to make it happen as quick as we can.”

During his “former life” as a Mahoning County commissioner, Reese said he thought the port authority was “underutilized” by the private sector and was pleased to take advantage of its powers in the Poland Way project.

“It’s a good financial mechanism for every developer,” he said. “Developers should really look at it.”

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