Come 2020, the lakes area will see the establishment of a new senior living housing development that offers a hybridized arrangement for care in facility and at home for central Minnesota’s aging population.

Faith-based nonprofit Knute Nelson — an organization specializing in senior housing and care — announced Wednesday, Dec. 4, they are establishing a new senior living community in Baxter.

Development plans include independent and assisted living apartments, enhanced assisted living apartments as well as a secure memory care facility. The plans represent an "aging in place" housing model — or a hybrid senior lifestyle model that allows residents residing in independent living to add assisted living services without changing their residency.

“We’ve had some successful projects throughout other markets we serve and we believe we can serve the Brainerd lakes area community by adding senior lifestyle housing,” said Katie Perry, chief development and strategy officer, during a phone interview Friday. “About 60,000 Minnesotans turn 65 and older each year, so we’re seeing in all our areas that we serve in the 21 counties that there’s an aging demographic.”

While plans are in the early formative stages and the final makeup of the facility has yet to be determined, Perry noted there will likely be over 100 units when the project is completed. The community will also feature an array of town center amenities such as a bistro, restaurant, community room, four-season porch, multipurpose room, club lounge, car wash bay, resident storage, spa, underground parking, banquet hall and wellness center.

The location for the proposed development is at the southeast corner of County Highway 48/Highland Scenic Road and Mapleton Road.

“We felt that was a great location,” Perry said. “It’s got close proximity to a lot of medical facilities and other community-type features such as shopping and highways 371 and 210. It also has a very residential feel, which is always important when constructing senior housing that really does support seniors and has natural beauty.”

Perry said the idea for such an initiative can date as far back as 2010-12, or when Knute Nelson first became active in the lakes area.

Knute Nelson Home Care and Hospice has been serving the Brainerd lakes area with nursing, home health aide and therapy services since 2012. Hospice services were introduced in 2018 and provide care to patients who have a terminal illness and their families. The office is located at 15670 Edgewood Drive, Baxter.

“We are actively pursuing ways to respond to the growing demographic. Expanding our offerings in the Brainerd lakes area helps ensure that area families have access to the services they need and depend on now and into the future,” stated Mark Anderson, president/CEO of Knute Nelson, in Wednesday’s release.

Baxter Mayor Darrel Olson lauded the amount of diligence and detail Knute Nelson representatives undertook when they met with city staffers to hash out the property, amenities and utilities that would be incorporated into it.

“They did their homework, they did a lot of investigating and there’s been a lot of discussion. They’ve been very thorough. It’s well thought out,” Olson said. “I think it’s going to be a tremendous asset in the community and a great addition to what’s already available. It provides another option for people who need that kind of help.”

There’s evidently a need for more senior housing, Olson said, and — with the way people often retire to their summer homes in the lakes area and need senior housing down the road — this is a current need and one that looks to stay for decades.

GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at gabe.lagarde@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5859. Follow at www.twitter.com/glbrddispatch.