Providence Life Services, a nonprofit that sponsors several senior living facilities in the Midwest, will close its Village Woods Retirement Community in Crete, a spokesperson for the group said.
The facility will close Nov. 30, a statement provided to the Daily Southtown said. Spokesperson Sheila King also said all 84 residents and 82 full- and part-time staff were notified. The organization says it is committed to working with each resident to help them plan their move.
The closure is due to problems with the building itself, the news release stated. In the spring, when construction workers were remodeling some of the units, they discovered possible spalling of the concrete, King said. Those concerns were confirmed this summer when engineers inspected the building.
Concrete spalling is when “part of the surface peels, breaks or chips away” and is caused by “a poor concrete mix, poor finishing, or overwatering,” according to ConcreteNetwork.com.
“Spalling can be repaired if it is not too extensive, but the process requires jackhammering and chiseling the existing building at unsafe decibel levels and removing exterior windows during the process,” the closure announcement reads.
The architecture firm Klein & Hoffman assessed the damage and determined the need for “significant concrete remediation, with costs estimated to be in the millions of dollars, and likely requiring many months to mitigate the spalling concrete and then begin the process of a major renovation,” the news release said.
As the building is vacated over the next three months, officials say they will work not only to help the residents but also the employees.
“For employees who choose to stay during this transition period, we are committed to helping them to find suitable employment within other Providence facilities, through hosting job fairs and working closely with other senior living organizations to assist with their placements,” said Jacob Groenewold, board chair of Providence Life Services.
Kelly Murfin, who said her father, Dennis, is a resident of Village Woods, was frustrated with the way Providence Life Services handled a meeting in which they informed residents of the plan.
“They didn’t even ask anyone if they had questions,” said Murfin, who attended with her father. “After the third question, they said ‘Are we done with questions?’ I basically felt like they didn’t want to answer questions. And when the questions were getting too hard, I believe they said ‘Well let’s just wrap up the questions and everybody go find you counselor.’”
Murfin took issue with the call for a prayer in the meeting, that she said lasted less than 20 minutes.
“We don’t need a prayer right now, we need answers,” she said.
“In my opinion, they did not acknowledge the residents and staff’s feelings of loss, mistrust or confusion,” she said.
Providence Life Services responded the meeting was to have a short presentation for the whole community and then break into smaller groups to introduce them to counselors who would help each resident and answer questions. King reiterated Providence’s goal to meet with each resident in the coming weeks to develop a plan forward for them.
While Village Woods has a Crete address, it is just outside the town boundary in an unincorporated area, according to Crete Village Hall. Crete Mayor Michael Einhorn said Providence Life Services notified him of the closure Wednesday “as a common courtesy.”
“I was surprised yesterday to hear that they had problems with the actual structure of the building,” Einhorn said Thursday. “It’s too expensive to fix and, obviously, equally expensive to replace. It’s too bad.”
The history of Village Woods is long and the closure is significant.
The building was a Holiday Inn before it was purchased by what would become Village Woods Christian Retirement Community. Senior residents moved in beginning in 1981, according to the nonprofit’s website. Village Woods, which still has some religious connection, added town houses in 1989. The company does not know what will become of the original building, its news release said.
“I can remember when that building was first built back in 1972. It’s always been something of a landmark in this area,” Einhorn said. “But, you know, time marches on and doesn’t wait for anybody.”