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Brainerd Council grants request for lower taxes from senior living developer

Proposed complex will include senior living, memory care units and a day care.

Design rendering of Country Manor facility
The Country Manor development planned for northwest Brainerd will include 112 senior living and memory care units, along with day care slots for children of various ages.
Rendering courtesy of GLTA Architects
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BRAINERD — The city of Brainerd is prepared to offer financial assistance to a senior living and day care facility set to be constructed later this year.

City Council members directed staff Monday, Feb. 7, to move forward with the tax abatement process for Country Manor, a proposed campus in northwest Brainerd that will have senior apartments, memory care units, day care facilities and other amenities for residents.

The project developer is Health Care Continuums, a Sartell-based nonprofit that provides housing and health care services to seniors. Country Manor began in 1970 as a 60-bed nursing facility and has since expanded to two campuses in Sartell and St. Joseph’s with a combined 241 senior living units and a variety of other amenities, like clinics, convenience stores, wellness centers, pharmacies and chapels.

The City Council approved the development stage plan for the project in June. The facility on Beaver Dam Road will have 112 units, with 18 for memory care patients and the rest senior living apartments. There will be day care slots for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children, along with a large convenience store and restaurant.

“It’s a community, and it’s about enriching lives,” Country Manor CEO Brian Kelm told the council Monday. “That’s our mission — enriching lives by providing superior health care and service.”

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The goal is to begin construction on the facility this spring. Kelm hopes to have reservations for about 50% of the units by the time it opens, but it would still take a month or two to move everyone in, and he said it typically takes a year or two to get all the units in a development like this filled.

But even before the units are full, the facility will have a staff consisting of nurses, nurse practitioners, home care aids, administrative support specialists, dietary specialists, maintenance workers and housekeeping staff. And in a time with increasing inflation, supply chain issues and staffing shortages driving up wages, Kelm said financial assistance will be key.

Man stands a podium in city council chambers
Brain Kelm, CEO of Country Manor, addresses the Brainerd City Council Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, to discuss tax abatement for a senior living complex and day care facility planned for Beaver Dam Road in northwest Brainerd.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

“We are very vulnerable the first two years, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re here talking to you,” he said. “... We’re hoping that you would consider tax abatement so that we could save some costs and have a better chance of being successful long term in this community, which we’re really excited about.”

The Economic Development Authority considered the tax abatement request at its last meeting and recommended the council agree to 45% tax abatement for 10 years. While the initial request was for $1.75 million tax abatement over 15 years staff recommended a percentage, as the estimated market value of the project and its property tax revenue is not yet known for certain. After reviewing construction plans, the Crow Wing County Assessor’s Office gave the project a preliminary estimated market value of just under $21.5 million, and accounting firm BakerTilly estimated roughly $1.9 million of taxes over the course of 10 years.

In line with the EDA’s suggestion, the council agreed to reduce the property taxes on the project by 45% for the first 10 years. The initial $1.75 million was requested not just from the city but a total amount of money in tax abatement from Brainerd, Crow Wing County and Brainerd Public Schools.

Project developers plan to approach the county and school district next with their request, and council members directed staff and the mayor to be a part of those conversations to convey the city’s involvement in the project.

Council members previously praised the project, thanking developers for putting a dent in both the housing and child care shortages in the area.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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