Developer Curt Lund is creating a residential community in Evergreen aimed at solving many common dilemmas of aging.
The Woodlands will be built on 11 acres behind Shopko, with groundbreaking planned in March. The development for people ages 55 and older will be the first of its kind in Montana, offering 144 residential units for sale in four buildings that surround a landscaped courtyard and community center. The grounds will feature walking paths and ample green space bordered by trees on one side and Spring Creek to the south.
“My initial vision was this — a widow or widower is living in their home, and the maintenance becomes a burden,” Lund said. “Selling their home is not the problem — it’s what do they do after.”
At age 78, Lund is in a similar position. He no longer wants or needs his large house, but he doesn’t want to move to a rental. He’s still enjoying an active, healthy lifestyle and is far from being ready for assisted living.
He also knows how important a social life is to aging well. With that in mind, generating interaction among residents is at the heart of The Woodlands’ design.
“The community center is the focus of this project,” Lund said. “It’s a place for gathering — we’ll have a theater, a library and a fitness room, with four individual rooms for family gatherings.”
Prices for one of the luxury units, which range in size from 1,088 to 1,400 square feet, will start at about $250,000. Construction begins in March, with the aim of completing the community center in the first months of 2020 so prospective buyers can view its amenities.
The first building is expected to be ready for occupancy in May 2020, and the remaining three residential buildings should be completed by October of 2021.
Lund modeled The Woodlands after a line of Minneapolis-St. Paul developments.
“The developer has 12 completed projects that are very similar to this, and they always sell out before they finish,” Lund said.
The Minneapolis projects gave him the idea to integrate a sunroom into each Woodlands unit, he said.
“Being a senior, I don’t like to sit out on a deck and I don’t think I’m unique,” he said. “Instead of having a huge deck, we have a sunroom. The living rooms extend out with windows on three sides.”
Lund said security is a priority for seniors, and a security guard will be on hand 24 hours a day. Each four-story building will have enclosed and heated parking on the ground floor.
“When you drive in the door shuts and you feel secure,” Lund said.
Lance Fahrney, president and sales manager for The Woodlands, said the parking facility wasn’t popular with the architects.
“Everyone tried to talk Curt out of enclosed, heated parking — it’s a pricey feature – but he drew the line in the sand. He said if you can’t make it work with the community center and enclosed parking, we don’t have a project.”
The builder on the project is Hammerquist Casalegno, with Jackola providing engineering and architecture services. Lund is the primary investor on the project with assistance from Glacier Bank.
Demographic trends of the Flathead Valley bolstered Lund’s confidence in the viability of The Woodlands. While the growth rate for the general population of the valley is 1.3 percent annually, the growth rate for those reaching age 55 is 4.3 percent each year and 6.2 percent for those over 65. In 2013, 24 percent of Flathead County’s residents were 60 or older and that figure is expected to be around 28 percent by 2020.
Lund also said more than 6,000 homes in the Flathead County currently house people over age 55.
Lund’s background in health care, social services and business have helped him turn his dreams for The Woodlands into reality. Before retiring, he served as interim chief executive officer of Kalispell Regional Healthcare and chairman of the board of trustees. He has an extensive history in accounting, construction and business management, including nine years of managing National Flood Services in Kalispell.
In retirement he started ASSIST, a local nonprofit that helps improve recovery for socially and physical isolated patients after they leave the hospital, and is involved in CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Kids.
The Woodlands sales office is in a historic brick building currently being remodeled on First Avenue East in Kalispell. In the early stages of publicizing The Woodlands, Lund and Fahrney said the project is receiving a warm reception among Evergreen business owners.
“When I’ve gone to Chamber functions, everyone is amazingly excited about The Woodlands and the impact this is going to have,” Fahrney said.
For more information, visit woodlandsmt.com
Business reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.