Ephrata retirement community sells for $21.5M

A recently opened retirement community in Ephrata Borough has been sold for $21.5 million, according to courthouse records.

Keystone Villa, plus two sister facilities in Berks County, were acquired earlier this month by a Media-based private equity firm, Capital Health Group.

Capital Health Group has picked Milestone Retirement Communities, based in Vancouver, Washington, to manage the three properties.

Spokesmen for Keystone Villa and Capital Health Group could not be immediately reached for comment.

opened its Ephrata location in 2014. The 100 N. State St. site previously was home to the Artworks at Doneckers (a collection of art studios and galleries) and before that, the Fleet-Air shoe factory.

Most of the seven-building complex, parts of which dated to the 1800s, was razed to make way for new construction of the retirement community, standing four stories high.

Described at that time as a $19 million project, Keystone Villa has 139 units for independent living, assisted living and memory-care living.

Also changing hands were Keystone Villa facilities in Douglassville (opened in 2005) and Fleetwood (opened in 2010), bringing the total number of residential units in the three locations to 509.

The three locations are for-profit retirement communities. They were developed and owned by Hollenbach Elliott Development Group, based in Berks County.


Why is solar power becoming a big deal in Whatcom County?

Going green

Solar panels | Milestone Retirement Communities

By Dave Gallagher - The Bellingham Herald - October 2, 2016

For years the biggest selling point for switching to solar power was the environmental benefits, but now business owners are finding it is also becoming better for the bottom line.

There is currently a global supply glut of solar panels. Along with improved efficiency and more competition, the price has dropped to where it’s more attractive for businesses trying to save money on power, said Dana Brandt, founder of Ecotech Solar in Bellingham. That has led to new commercial deals for Ecotech, including the upcoming installation of what will be the largest solar system in Whatcom County: Later this year the company will be installing a system at Irongate Machine that will be about four times bigger than the one on the roof of the Community Food Co-op’s Cordata store, Brandt said.
The new system, which will go on the south-facing side of the roof, will save the machine shop about $12,000 a year in electricity, making the investment pay for itself in about five years, said Kerry Byford, co-owner of Irongate Machines. When he first looked into solar panels several years ago, it took about 14 years to recoup the same investment.

“I think a lot of business owners with large, flat roofs will be taking a closer look at this,” Byford said.

The direction the solar industry takes in the next few years will affect Whatcom County’s economy because of several growing businesses in the area directly tied to it. Along with Ecotech, which installs the systems and has around 10 employees, the county is home to two significant solar system manufacturers: Itek and The Alpha Group.

Itek, which employs 85 people in Bellingham, is in negotiations to occupy a former GP waterfront building at 800 Cornwall Ave. If the new deal with the Port of Bellingham is finalized, it will triple the size of the company’s space to about 48,000 square feet and mean new equipment and more employees, said Karl Unterschuetz, Itek’s director of business development. He expects the deal to be finalized soon and hopes to be in the larger building next spring.

The move into the bigger space will be a key step toward entering the national and global market. The company currently makes its panels for customers on the West Coast. Unterschuetz said current market conditions have created a big opportunity to take the next step as a company. While there is a glut of panels, the market itself is growing and demand could pick up if those prices remain low.

“In the next couple of years we expect to grow rapidly as we enter a growing U.S. market,” Unterschuetz said.

Trade associations also share an optimistic view of the U.S. solar market. A recent report done for the Solar Energy Industries Association predicts the national solar market will grow 119 percent in 2016. Some factors for the increase include the rollout of new community solar programs and increased interest from the commercial sector.

Along with the Irongate Machine project, Ecotech Solar is installing a similar size system at the Chandler’s Square Retirement Community in Anacortes. Both projects are bigger than any other solar panel system north of Seattle, Brandt said.

Ecotech and Itek were also recently involved in putting a 48-panel solar array on the Bellingham Food Bank. As part of the Solarize Whatcom campaign, the panels were donated by a variety of companies and residents. Early estimates predict the food bank will save $1,300 a year in power costs.

Prior to this uptick in commercial interest in solar panels, Brandt said much of their work came from residential projects. In the past, residential installations made more sense from a financial standpoint because they had more tax incentives than commercial systems, Brandt said.

Why Whatcom County?

With its rainy weather, Whatcom County would seem like an unlikely hub of solar panel production and activity. Brandt points out that while the area has less sunlight in the winter, the 16-hour days of sunlight in the summer quickly build up credits for customers.

Unterschuetz agreed, adding that Whatcom County’s climate has other positives for collecting solar energy. He said the panels tend to work better in cooler, sunny weather compared to a dry desert climate. The air is also clean here and the rain helps.

“(Collecting solar power) between November and January is terrible, but the rain keeps the panels clean,” Unterschuetz said.

For Irongate Machine, cutting into its power bill is a major cost savings. The company, which employs 21 people, uses a lot of electricity making a variety of equipment, mostly for the food processing industry.

Byford said he became intrigued by the idea of solar power while attending Western Washington University and seeing the construction of a solar-powered car at the Vehicle Research Institute. The tipping point for him was not just the lower costs for the panels but also the tax incentives that are in place for commercial users. He said he would prefer to see solar power reach a point where it doesn’t need subsidies.

“I think the technology is great and right now the tax advantages are great,” Byford said.

Retirement community going green with solar-electric system

Going greenBy Joan Pringle - - September 28, 2016

In total, 495 solar panels will be mounted on the roofs of Chandler’s Square Retirement Community, according to Ian Woofenden. He is a consultant, as well as author, educator and speaker on renewable energy.

Together with Ecotech Solar, Woofenden is developing a solar array system for Chandler’s that will be tied to Puget Sound Energy’s grid and offset a major portion of the facility’s energy usage.

“You will be living in a facility that is pretty forward thinking,” Woofenden told a roomful of residents earlier this month during a presentation on the facility’s plans to save energy costs.

Solar panels are long-lasting and productive, Woofenden told the group. Every time the sun is out, they make energy.

Energy usage at Chandler’s at the corner of 12th Street and O Avenue is 2,500 to 2,800 kilowatt hours a day, adding up to about 31.1 kilowatt hours for each of the 90 apartments, which is about average in the U.S., Woofenden said.

“I hope to reduce that by 40 to 50 percent via energy efficiency measures and the solar-electric system,” he said.

The facility is having new roofs installed prior to the panels going in and some trees removed that would block the sun. Some panels will be installed on east-facing roofs at the entry in order to be visible to the public.

The new 171 kilowatt solar-electric system with 345-watt modules will produce on average an estimated 512 kilowatt hours per day, Woofenden said.

“A typically wasteful American home uses 25-30 kilowatt hours per day without heating,” he said. “Heating can bring that number to 90 plus, but really depends on home size and climate a lot. So the system could cover the electricity of perhaps 20 wasteful homes or three times that many high-efficiency homes.”

Mark Wiesner, chief operating officer of Milestone Retirement Communities, which manages Chandler’s, said the decision to move to solar was not only a financial decision but also one couched in the environmental impact that taking care of more than 200 residents creates.

“Our goal is to look at how we can reduce our global footprint and become more environmental friendly,” Wiesner said.

“The solar system will provide a large portion of our electrical needs at Chandler’s Square at a fixed cost for the next 20 to 30 years,” said Lanney Wixson, Chandler’s owner and board member.

Additional upgrades at the facility will include to the insulation and lighting. Energy efficient refrigerators are gradually being installed in the apartments and smart power strips are being provided for entertainment systems. The plugs shut off automatically after a preset amount of time when no motion is sensed through any of the remotes.

Most energy is used for heating and cooling, Woofenden said. In order to reduce those costs, 65 older apartments with baseboard heaters will be equipped with ductless mini-split heat pumps.

The 25 apartments in a newer north wing are already heated by a boiler system. It’s less efficient than heat pumps but better then the older baseboard units,Woofenden said.

The units operate by bringing heat from the outside ambient air in and exhausting the cold, he said. They are the most cost-effective and clean heating system short of direct solar gain, which is problematic in this climate.

The ultimate goals of the energy-reducing project are to save money and protect the environment, Woofenden said.

“What we’re doing here is my work but it’s also close to my heart,” he said.

Joe Jedlowski Welcomed To Milestone Ownership


The Milestone Retirement Communities Ownership Team is proud to announce an exciting and important development: On April 1, 2016, we welcomed Joe Jedlowski, Senior VP of Operations, as an owner in Milestone.

The Milestone Retirement Communities Ownership Team is proud to announce an exciting and important development: On April 1, 2016, we welcomed Joe Jedlowski, Senior VP of Operations, as an owner in Milestone.

Joe has been with Milestone nearly 5 years and has shown in many ways his value, hard work, skills at building relationships and abilities at guiding communities to achieving success.  Joe is a tireless worker, is practical, optimistic and leads by example.  His effort and integrity have given us reason to bring him into the ownership group to help guide the company for many years to come.

Over the years, he has become an expert in operational and financial executive management across multiple sites and states. This talent proves advantageous in the management of seniors housing projects such as: new construction developments, acquisitions, change management, human resources and overall relationship building (employee, resident, vendor and investor).

He shares his expertise with the larger industry as well, sitting on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Assisted Living Federation Association (Executive Committee) and remaining active with the American Geriatrics Society, National Association of Health Services Executives, The American College of Healthcare Administrators and The American College of Healthcare Executives.
He holds a degree in health care and business from American University, and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. He also holds a degree in nursing home administration from the School of Aging and Long Term Care at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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