Friendship Village of Bloomington plans $70 million expansion project

By Sue Webber

Contributing writer

Friendship Village of Bloomington, which opened in 1979, is planning an expansion project scheduled to break ground in 2018. (Submitted photo)
Friendship Village of Bloomington, which opened in 1979, is planning an expansion project scheduled to break ground in 2018. (Submitted photo)

Friendship Village of Bloomington, which opened in 1979 as a multi-tiered Continuing Care Retirement Community for senior citizens, or CCRC, is rolling out a $70 million expansion project, scheduled to break ground in 2018.

“We’re adding 100 residential living apartments and replacing and upgrading our health center,” David Miller, executive director of Friendship Village said. “It’s time for it to be updated. We purchased the lot next door several years ago.”

Friendship Village now is accepting deposits from people who wish to be on a priority list for the new building.

The current facility, located at 8100 Highwood Drive, has 475 residents ranging in age from 62 to 107, who live independently, in transition care (rehab), boarding care, memory care, or skilled (long-term) nursing. A staff of 285 employees serves Friendship Village.

According to the AARP website, continuing care retirement communities have accommodations for independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care, offering residents a continuum of care. “A person can spend the rest of his life in a CCRC, moving between levels of care as needed,” the AARP website said.

Living units at Friendship Village now range from a 436 square-foot studio apartment, to units with two bathrooms and two or three bedrooms, ranging in size from 1,233 to 1,640 square feet.

The new units will have the same amenities all the other residents currently enjoy, including:

  • 24-hour security
  • Full-service banking
  • FitSix® comprehensive health and wellness program
  • Lounges and party rooms
  • Beauty salon/barber shop
  • Library
  • Billiards area
  • Woodworking shop
  • Laundry rooms
  • Spacious party hall and activity hall
  • Guest rooms (available for an additional charge)
  • Garages (available for an additional charge)
  • Gardens
  • Computer room
  • Café
  • Pet-friendly
  • 9-hole outdoor fitness center, pool, exercise studio and equipment studio
  • Private car service for hire
  • Complimentary car wash

“We will be adding up to four more restaurants,” Miller said. “Friendship Village is like a little city. It’s a pretty exciting time.”

Bob and Marilyn Wig moved to Friendship Village from Milaca in July 2010. He was a native of Montevideo, and she grew up in Robbinsdale. They were encouraged by their daughter, who has worked at Friendship Village for more than 25 years and is its wellness director.

A communal space at Friendship Village in Bloomington
A communal space at Friendship Village in Bloomington

“We have been very happy here and have made many good friends,” Marilyn said. “The best things about life here are the very friendly and open people we have met and the almost endless variety of things to do with our free time. The residents and team members (staff) seem to really care about others living here.”

“Of course, it also helps that I no longer cook very much and haven’t washed a window or floor in the last six-plus years,” she said. “My husband appreciates not needing to shovel snow or mow grass, but he does enjoy working in our small garden.”

The Wigs didn’t look at any other senior residences before moving there, Marilyn said.

“We had volunteered in a few and had visited here on several occasions,” she said. “Nothing we had seen even compared.”

They still visit other places, as members of the Bloomingtones, a volunteer choir from the Bloomington Senior Center, she said.

Both of the Wigs were teachers for many years.

Marilyn also worked for the Milaca newspaper after she retired from teaching.

“We have three married children and three teen-aged grandchildren,” Marilyn said. “One of them calls our place ‘Grandpa and Grandma’s resort.’ I often describe life here as a cross between a convention hotel and a cruise ship.  We have our own private space but spend most of our time participating in the many opportunities available to us, including the well-staffed fitness center and the many concerts and movies in our gathering space.”

Friendship Village includes amenities such as a beauty salon and barber shop, library, gardens, billiards area, and lounges and activites spaces. (Submitted photo)
Friendship Village includes amenities such as a beauty salon and barber shop, library, gardens, billiards area, and lounges and activites spaces. (Submitted photo)

“We see as much wildlife here as we did while living at the edge of a small town,” she said, adding that Bob enjoys the walking paths and open spaces.

But the very best thing, Marilyn said, is they’ll never have to move again. They are guaranteed a place in their own health care facility, if and when the need arises.

“That’s worth a lot and gives great peace of mind,” she said.

Friendship Village was the first of 12 Lifespace senior living communities located in seven different states.

According to the Internet, life care communities are different from other senior housing in that they require a long-term, upfront financial commitment that, in turn, guarantees housing, services and nursing care all in one location through the end of life.

In contrast to fee-for-service contracts, life care residents pay a large initial deposit plus a monthly maintenance fee that stays nearly the same no matter how much care is needed.

“Part independent living, part assisted living and part skilled nursing home, Continuing Care Retirement Communities offer a tiered approach to the aging process, accommodating residents’ changing needs,” the AARP website said. “Upon entering, healthy adults can reside independently in single-family homes, apartments or condominiums. When assistance with everyday activities becomes necessary, they can move into assisted living or nursing care facilities.

“These communities give older adults the option to live in one location for the duration of their life, with much of their future care already figured out.”

Regarding cost, the AARP website said CCRCs require an entrance fee ranging from $100,000 to $1 million, “an upfront sum to prepay for care as well as to provide the facility money to operate.”

“Monthly charges can range from $3,000 to $5,000, but may increase as needs change,” the website said. The fees are dependent on the health of the resident, and the type of housing they choose.

At Friendship Village, the entrance fees are partially refundable, Miller said.