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Retirement Apartments set to Close in Kalamazoo

Retirement Apartments set to Close in Kalamazoo. (WWMT/Jason Heeres)

Plans to reduce capacity at a Kalamazoo nursing home will move forward, but no residents will be asked to relocate, according to reworked renovation plans.

Heritage Community of Kalamazoo CEO and President Jay Prince says the bed count at Harold and Grace Upjohn Care and Rehabilitation Center will shrink from 118 to 76, but it will be a slow process. Rooms will be converted to a single, private room as they become available.

“Change is very difficult with this population, it’s our mission and our goal to make sure we are doing everything we can to support people and help them through the change,” Prince said.

The slow approach comes after backlash from families who claimed residents received letters urging them to find another place to stay during renovations at Upjohn, which is part of the larger Heritage Community of Kalamazoo.

Prince says this is new territory for Heritage, as it looks to improve its facilities without inconveniencing residents.

“Part of the decisions making was obviously a very, very difficult,” Prince said.

Heritage Community of Kalamazoo sent letters to residents at the assisted living apartments on its campus in January announcing plans to close the property in April 2019.

“None of us want to move all of us are very disappointed,” Betty Omelianowich said.

Omelianowich wants to stay at Heritage Hills Apartments, the place she’s called home for nearly 30 years.

“Everyone is trying to find another place,” Omelianowich said.

Currently, 68 of the 73 apartments at the assisted living facility are occupied.

Omelianowich said, “They’re not kicking anyone out, as far as I know, but they did say that we needed to be out by April of next year.”

Heritage Community of Kalamazoo CEO and President Jay Prince says the goal is to build a brand new assisted living facility on Portage Street near the Fulton Street intersection, less than a quarter-mile from where the apartments are currently located.

Current residents Heritage Hills Apartments will get priority access to move into the new building.

“Which would be wonderful for us because we would love to stay in this area,” Omelianowich said.

Plans are still up in the air as Heritage Community of Kalamazoo compete for state dollars to help fund the $10 million building project.

Heritage was recently denied grant money by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), but Prince says he plans to submit another application in a couple weeks.

If the latest application is denied or the new building is still under construction come next April Prince says current residents who have not found a new place to live will not be forced out.

“We will make sure that the site stays open until everybody has comfortable housing,” Prince said.

Heritage is also working to build community partnerships to help residents at Heritage Hills Apartments find a new place to stay in the next year.

Prince said, “We don’t want to see this property fall apart and to not be safe for our residents and so in between that time we are making sure that residents have a safe place, that they know they are supported.”

Heritage is holding meetings every couple of weeks to meet with residents to discuss plans and any updates.

A decision from MSHDA on grant funding is expect this summer and Prince said construction would start as soon as its grant application is approved.

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