Construction on senior units at Cottage to start this fall

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 15, 2013

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Seniors will soon be able to live within steps of medical care, senior programs, dining and shopping.

Construction on senior housing on the second and third floors of Henry Ford Medical Center-Cottage, located at 159 Kercheval on the Hill, is slated to start this fall. American House Senior Living Communities and the Southfield-based real estate development firm REDICO are working together to create an estimated 85 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments for seniors, ranging from independent living to independent living with some assistance, said Kevin Kieninger, public relations and communications coordinator for American House. At press time, he said those units were likely to consist of 40 independent living apartments, 30 licensed assisted living units and 15 memory care units for those with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“We’d very much like to get started (on construction)” in September or October, Kieninger said.

Henry Ford Health System will continue to offer medical services such as outpatient surgery at Cottage, but those services will be moved, if needed, to Cottage’s first floor or the neighboring Pierson Clinic at 131 Kercheval. The project was approved by the Farms City Council at a meeting April 15.

“We found that there was a pretty significant demand for senior living in the area,” said Tim McCafferty, senior project manager of REDICO, during a December City Council meeting.

Next month, Services for Older Citizens is slated to open its doors at its first stand-alone building, a renovated Newberry House, located behind Cottage at the corner of Ridge and Muir. SOC offers a range of programs for Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods seniors, from bingo and movie luncheons, to exercise, to consultations with social workers, along with meal delivery for homebound seniors, help with home repairs and much more. Seniors living at the new American House facility will be able to walk to SOC from their apartments.

American House/REDICO is purchasing the Cottage floors from Henry Ford Health System, but Paul Szilagyi, regional vice president of primary care and medical centers for HFHS, said he couldn’t disclose the price. He did say HFHS had to have that part of the building appraised first. Despite the separate ownership, he said both entities would share responsibility for certain aspects of building maintenance.

Cottage isn’t eliminating any of the medical services it has now, including pediatrics, which was added last year, said Szilagyi. He said that’s because much of the space on the second and third floors is now empty, because Cottage — which is no longer a hospital — doesn’t keep patients for overnight stays anymore. Szilagyi said they’re in the process of adding an ear, nose and throat medical program, along with audiology so they can outfit patients with hearing aids.

“We’re not shrinking — we’re growing,” Szilagyi said. “It fits with what’s going on with American House. It fits with what’s going on at SOC.”

Residents at the American House facility would be assigned a certain number of spaces in the adjacent Cottage parking deck they could use, he said. To distinguish between Cottage and American House, Szilagyi said both entities would have separate entrances.

Cottage is likely to turn over the floors to American House/REDICO in August, or at least by Sept. 1, Szilagyi said.

“My true hopes are that we have a high level of synergy between SOC, American House and the services we have (at Cottage),” he said. “It’s something the Grosse Pointe market needed. Our services complement each other. We want a true Cottage campus.”

Once construction gets under way, Kieninger said it’s expected to take about 12-14 months to complete. He said they’re hoping to have floor plans available for potential residents to look at when construction begins. The finished product should resemble other signature American House facilities, such as the one in Warren, although Kieninger said that in acknowledgement of the area, they will be using more upscale finishes and fixtures inside the Cottage facility, which will be called American House Grosse Pointe.

“We want to match the look of the Grosse Pointe community,” he said.

Although it will be mostly independent living, residents will be able to sign up for various plans that offer services such as laundry, meals and medication reminders, Kieninger said. Residents will be able to enjoy concerts by small ensembles of Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians, trips to movies and sporting events, and other programs that he said are designed to “engage residents mentally, physically and spiritually.” American House will likely have an onsite hair salon and computer lab, he said.

“There’s been a ton of community support,” Kieninger said of this proposal. “We’re all really excited to put the shovels in the ground, so to speak. We’re happy to be in partnership with Henry Ford Health System. … Once we finally do get the doors open, we know it will be a big success.”

A proposed merger announced last October between HFHS and Beaumont Health System — which would create a new, $6.4 billion health care organization — isn’t expected to have any impact on the American House project, Szilagyi said. If anything, he said this new project complements the merger. At press time, he said officials with the two health systems were likely to be making a statement about progress toward the merger later this month. Szilagyi said they anticipate getting word this summer about whether the proposal meets governmental regulatory standards. If the merger is approved, he said both health systems could likely be looking at how they can coordinate their health services most efficiently, meaning that certain services might not be duplicated at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe and at Cottage.

“There might be an opportunity to consolidate some services, but by and large, we will remain separate entities,” Szilagyi said.

Kieninger said they weren’t accepting deposits yet because they still haven’t finalized floor plans. However, he said they have been maintaining a list of people interested in moving into one of these units.

For more information on the units at Cottage or to be placed on an informational mailing list, contact Samantha Pal of American House at or (248) 203-1800.