Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


St. George Village Retirement Complex Breaks Ground

By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published July 15, 2004

Charter members of St. George Village were the guests of honor June 9 as the ground was broken for the retirement community where they’re eager to begin living.

To be built alongside St. Peter Chanel Church, on a campus that includes Queen of Angels Elementary School and Blessed Trinity High School, it is the first and only continuing care retirement community in Roswell and the first Catholic continuing care retirement community in North Georgia. The site is located on Woodstock Road at Highway 92 in Roswell.

Stacy Gass, marketing director, said that 139 of 143 independent living units have been reserved, bringing the project to approximately 96 percent of capacity. There will also be 24 assisted living apartments and 14 Alzheimer’s units, some of which may be marketed in the near future, and a 30-bed nursing area, with all private rooms, that will only be open to residents of St. George Village.

Ten additional independent living units have been reserved for retired priests of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. The first priests to live there will include Father Ed Danneker, Msgr. Bill Hoffman, Father Ray Horan and Father Richard Morrow, and after he is retired, Archbishop John F. Donoghue plans to live there. The archdiocese will use a portion of the funds that were designated in the “Building the Church of Tomorrow” capital campaign for priests’ retirement to purchase the 10 units.

Before the financing could be put in place to start the project, at least 70 percent of the units had to be pre-sold and that has happened very rapidly. Residents have put 10 percent down on their entrance fee. The entrance fee starts at $173,000, depending on the size of the unit. Residents will also pay a monthly maintenance fee depending on the size of the apartment and the number of people living there. Should a resident move out or die, 90 percent of the entrance fee will be refunded to them or will go into their estate when the unit is re-occupied.

Construction is also being financed through the sale of tax-exempt bonds by the archdiocese.

Gary Meader, chief financial officer of the archdiocese, said that the archdiocese worked with bond attorneys from Bank of America to structure the sale of bonds in stages as needed, rather than all up front. The archdiocese has the ability to issue up to $50 million in bonds but expects to come in under that at around $48 million, he said. Selling the bonds in stages cuts down on the financing cost, Meader said, saying, “we’re pleased” with the way the bond sale has been structured. Initially, a bond issue of $8,950,000 has been sold.

St. George Village is scheduled to open in the fall of 2005, and Meader said he expects half of the bonds to be retired within two years of the opening of the facility. Those bonds will be amortized from a portion of the residents’ entrance fees. The remainder of the bonds will be amortized from a portion of the residents’ monthly fees.

It is a not-for-profit facility owned by Catholic Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Inc. and managed by Wesley Woods, Inc. Wesley Woods is the leader in geriatric care in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

George L. Aulbach, retired chief executive officer of Laing Properties, has donated his services as project development manager, at the request of the archbishop. Catholic Construction Services, Inc., is overseeing the project.

At the ground-breaking Archbishop Donoghue said that a decade ago looking at the physical needs of the archdiocese two of the greatest needs were for more Catholic schools for the young and for enhanced and expanded care for seniors. On this site people will see the realization of both these dreams, he said.

“Seeing the fulfillment of these two aspirations come about, is at the heart of the happiness I feel today,” the archbishop said. “That is why it gives me great pleasure to proceed now with this ground-breaking. For we are bringing about here the production of a great and blessed work—a home where the needs of those who live here, will never be separated from the happiness that faith and hope can bring to our lives—our lives in their entirety and until their final moment. I cannot think of any need in human society more important, and I cannot conceive of a way to better meet this need.”

Among those attending the ground-breaking was Laura Knapp, a Catholic with a decade of experience working at a senior facility known as Presbyterian Village, who is now volunteering on the St. George Village project.

“I so loved what I did at Presbyterian Village I just wanted to share that knowledge and experience with my Catholic community,” she said.

The continuing care model offers stability to people as they age, she noted. “No matter what situation you’re in—if you’re independent or if you need some assistance or later if you have to go to a nursing level—you never have to change your residence.”

“The program and the services are going to have to be top notch,” she continued.

Gene Stelten, who will be one of the charter residents with his wife, Jeannie, said, “The thing that attracted me initially was the opportunity to meet 150 new families—and that’s exciting.”

“There are people here from our old parish and our new parish—from all over the city. We’ve known a lot of these people and seen them once or twice a year. Now they will be our neighbors. That’s the big attraction for me.”

A member of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Alpharetta, he is active in the North Fulton chapter of Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer fund-raiser, work he will continue when he moves to St. George Village. He enjoys the ecumenical dimension of Habitat, working with many denominations, and looks forward to interacting with a variety of people at St. George Village. The Habitat chapter works out of donated space at Roswell United Methodist Church. At the ground-breaking the invocation was given by St. Peter Chanel pastor Father Frank McNamee and the final blessing by the Rev. Frank Bernat, senior associate minister at the Methodist church.

Retired from Motorola in radio communications, Stelten and his wife are 40-year residents of Atlanta.

“We’re lucky we’re in the right place at the right time,” Jeannie Stelten said.

H. Tim Crow, also a charter member with his wife, Irene, said, “When the story first ran in The Bulletin, we said, this is for us. Neither of us has much family and we didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.”

Ira Cavallo, another charter resident, who already lives in Roswell, noted the vitality of the group of people who will become a community at St. George Village.

“There’s a lot of intelligence, imagination, ingenuity and drive amongst us all. Our value is still there,” he said, emphatically. “We can contribute to the community and to each other.”

The energy on the campus surrounding St. George Village is also very attractive, the Crows said.

“I became a Catholic because of the Eucharist,” said Irene Crow. “When I am lying flat on my back, I want to receive the Eucharist.”

The presence at St. Peter Chanel of a perpetual adoration chapel, as well as daily Mass, is a great spiritual attraction. Her husband likes that and also the kind of activities that will be nearby because of the schools.

“We not only have daily adoration and Mass. We’ve got an elementary school and a high school and a football stadium. We’re going to football games. Our lives will take on a whole new dimension,” he said.

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood said that he grew up riding horses and fishing in the area that is now the site for the church, schools and retirement community. The Roswell zoning code was amended to create a category for the continuing care community, Wood recalled.

“This property means a lot to me. This is the community I grew up in, ” he said.

Residents in independent living will have one- or two-bedroom units ranging in size from 676 square-feet to more than 1,614 square-feet. A single-story, 20,500-square-foot community center will be centrally located on the site and will be available only to residents. It will include a living room, convenience store, card room, arts and crafts room, auditorium, beauty salon/barber shop and mailroom. There will be a fine dining room and a lounge/café.

A single-story, 10,000-square-foot wellness center will be provided for the exclusive use of the community and will include an indoor pool, fitness room, aerobics/dance room, changing/shower rooms and spa.

The full-service program is planned to include a daily meal credit for either the dining room or café, weekly housekeeping and linen service, utilities, apartment maintenance, priority access to assisted living and skilled nursing at a discounted rate, security and 24-hour call system, scheduled transportation, use of all common areas and wellness and activities programming.

Architects for the project are Rink, Reynolds, Diamond, Fisher, Wilson of Jacksonville, Fla. The contractor is Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC of Kennesaw.