GRAND RAPIDS — Beacon Hill at Eastgate is in the enviable position of being the only senior community in the state located within a Renaissance Zone.
The $60 million community to be built on the current Boston Avenue campus of MetroHealthHospital has been awarded the hospital's Ren Zone designation, originally granted to aid development partner The Granger Group in redeveloping the property.
The Ren Zone, which eliminates state and local tax liabilities for residents, is valid until 2017. Residents of independent living communities are normally required to pay property taxes in the same manner as a condominium owner.
"This allows us to further demonstrate our commitment to lower monthly costs," said Jeff Huegli, Beacon Hill president and CEO. "We're shooting for an affordable community-based experience. … We're able to give these tax breaks to seniors, who we feel are the ones that need it the most."
Formerly known as Michigan Christian Home, Beacon Hill at Eastgate is the combination of a 150-resident, 47-year-old nonprofit nursing home and senior housing center adjacent to the Metro Health property and the 12.2-acre, "blue-sky" development that will begin construction next year.
When the hospital moves to Wyoming this fall, it will sell the Grand Rapids property to The Granger Group, which will raze the property and then sell it to Beacon Hill. The Granger Group, based in Lansing with a Grand Rapids office, also is one of the contractors involved in the construction of MetroHealthVillage in Wyoming
The hospital move allows Beacon Hill to expand its current campus with a new 114-unit independent-living apartment structure anchored by a community center with competitive amenities. Other buildings will include 36 assisted-living residences and 24 memory-care suites.
Ironically, Beacon Hill at Eastgate had been investigating the possibility of moving out to the M-6 corridor near the new hospital site before learning of the Metro Health plan.
"To build a new, blue-sky development like this, you need a lot of land," said Beacon Hill Sales and Marketing Director Brian Mack. "That's why you see communities opening up large satellite locations. We have the opportunity to do that without leaving the neighborhood."
An information center is currently available at 1801 Breton Road SE, across from BretonVillageShopping Center. It is hosting a grand opening this Wednesday.
The average age of residents in new senior developments tends to be younger than in established facilities, Mack said, as residents have not yet had a chance to age at the home. Most independent living facilities have an average age of 78 to 83. Beacon Hill expects its initial residents to be 10 years younger. The Ren Zone status could prove an additional incentive to younger buyers, Mack said.