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Tour group gets sneak peek at Crystal Brook

A third-floor apartment was at the unpainted drywall stage of completion when local community leaders got a first look inside Knute Nelson’s Crystal Brook Senior Living on Tuesday. (Photos by Robin Fish/Enterprise)

A small group of community representatives received an early look Tuesday inside Knute Nelson's not-yet-completed Crystal Brook Senior Living in Park Rapids.

Among those invited on the tour were City Planner Ryan Mathisrud, David Collins with Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Corporation, Butch De La Hunt with the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Mike Monsrud with Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative Electrical Association.

Katie Perry, senior vice president with Knute Nelson, noted it was only one year ago that the Alexandria-based company closed on the property on South Henrietta Avenue.

Approximately four months into construction, the 138,000-square-foot building was structurally complete but still having insulation and drywall installed, starting on the third floor and working downward. It is projected to cost $17.9 million.

Mark Anderson, chief executive officer of Knute Nelson, said the facility is still on track to open sometime in September.

To hit that target, foreman Jed Burkey of Innovative Builders in Alexandra said 60 to 70 people work there daily on average. He said that number will surge past 100 during the summer while finishing touches, curbs and parking lots are added.

Burkey said 100 sheets of drywall were being hung each day, and he described the amount of insulation, heating equipment and duct work being delivered daily as "pretty staggering."

The first-look tour started on the basement level, where space under the entire facility will be used for parking, a delivery loading dock, mechanical rooms and storage, including storage areas for tenants.

Participants then headed up to the third floor to look at a variety of apartment designs in the drywall-and-insulation stage of development. Contractor/developer Randy Roers, also with Innovative Builders, said the plan was to complete the units from the top floor down, pushing the mess down and out the front door.

Roers and Burkey explained how spaces between walls, insulation above the ceilings, and concrete-gypsum flooring will help cancel noise and give residents a sense of privacy.

Of 13 floor plans available in the building, three were already sold out, said housing advisor Stacy Johnson, who currently works out of the temporary Crystal Brook office in the Armory Square building. The main building's 69 independent- and assisted-living units range from 681 to 1,335 square feet.

She told about the thought put into the apartments' design to accommodate the "senior lifestyle," with attention to such details as carpet types, counter heights and master bathroom showers with a seat and a slight step-in.

Burkey pointed out the utility closet in each apartment, which will contain equipment giving each unit's residents independent control over their climate.

While the tour group took in the scenery from upper-floor windows, they were invited to visualize a future pond, walking path and parklike setting behind the facility. Indoor areas, already roughed in, include a second-floor multi-purpose activity room and beauty salon, a two-story atrium with a scenic second-level walkway, a first-floor fitness center, community room, dining room and a Home Care office for nursing personnel serving those in the community who choose to "age in place."

Also on the first floor will be an outdoor dining area and kitchens that will serve both the apartment building and an adjacent, 19-unit memory care facility, where six of the units have already been rented. Perry said two of the residents who signed up will be able to move back to their hometown after being placed elsewhere, due to a shortage of memory care units in the area.

The memory care building, designed as a single-floor house with no basement, will have controlled access and a separate entrance for visiting loved ones. Suites, with two designs measuring 381 and 406 square feet, include a bedroom, bathroom and closet, while a common living area will encourage residents to socialize together. Each unit also has a built-in memory box, where residents can display personal mementos.

Johnson said Knute Nelson has been forming a list of people interested in working at the completed facility, and those people will be contacted as job openings are posted on the company's website. Approximately 28 full-time positions will eventually be available.

Also available by appointment at Johnson's Armory Square office are virtual tours of the available apartment designs and samples of decorative choices.

Anderson voiced appreciation for the Park Rapids civic leaders who "made it easy for us to get to this point," allowing the project to move from purchasing property to near completion in about a year.

Perry added, "We want to be a good partner with the community."

Collins said, "We're fortunate that you're here. You've done everything you said you would do."

He observed that Crystal Brook is an added attraction to a community that is already seeing job growth and a need for more housing.

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