A new senior-living complex in Prospect Park beginning construction this week aims to fill a gap in childcare shortages while employing University of Minnesota students.
The Pillars of Prospect Park will offer multiple senior-living options — including independent living, assisted living and memory care. An on-site daycare center will allow for intergenerational programming geared toward interaction between the children and senior residents, or “grand-friends.”
The intergenerational programming by Oppidan Investment Companies will be facilitated through Ebenezer, a senior-living provider with two other facilities in the metro area that utilize the program.
“On our campus we do a ton of different activities, and it helps the seniors feel a sense of purpose,” said Jody Schumann, director of child care at Ebenezer. “They talk about the kids all the time.”
The benefits of intergenerational programming are numerous for both parties, offering a sense of community and purpose to the seniors, Schumann said. For the children, it promotes social-emotional development and builds comfort around older generations in a supportive environment.
“We’ve done things from baseball, football, we’ve had the Olympics here [at the Burnsville facility],” Schumann said. “We have all these different things and the residents want to get up and run the bases, too.”
The daycare center will offer programs for children aging from six-weeks-old to preschool-age.
Shannon Rusk, vice president of development for Oppidan, said developers are working closely to involve University students in the project through employment and childcare.
The project could address the possible closure of the University’s Child Development Center, Rusk said.
“The University is potentially closing the daycare center, so we can help facilitate that gap before they get theirs rebuilt,” Rusk said.
The team has reached out to the University's Alumni Association and Retirees Association to offer research opportunities in its memory care section. The center may also offer internships to nursing students.
“We’re trying to reach out and find relationships wherever we can,” Rusk said.
Oppidan also hopes to team up with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a University program that offers educational programs to senior citizens over age 55. Rusk said the program's location is ideal for future programming because of its proximity to the University and the lack of senior communities in the area.
Vince Netz, executive director of the Prospect Park Association, said the project aligns with PPA’s plans to add more options for senior housing to the area.
“It’s a way for residents that have lived here for many years to transition to a condo or a town home without having to leave,” he said. “[It's] is really what we were hoping for.”
The 283-unit development will offer an array of amenities, including a movie theater, golf simulator, hair salon and a retail space on the first floor.
The Pillars of Prospect Park will be located at 22 Malcolm Ave. SE., one block from the Prospect Park light rail station. It is planned to open late spring of 2020.