And it is expected to give the city’s economy a boost at a time when it could use one.
John Cheney, chief executive officer of Southeast Senior Management Group, said that after nearly three years of construction and renovation work to the old Bowdon Area Hospital building on Mitchell Avenue, the assisted-care community is expected to open this fall.
The building was purchased by Florida doctor and geriatric specialist Hanimi Challa with a vision that the former hospital would once again become a thriving place with all of the comforts for a person to age with dignity while having their needs met. Southeast Senior Management Group will operate the business.
Cheney said the facility has more than 20,000 square feet to house 40 people in assisted living apartments and a secured wing to care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“We’ve renovated the building and it is all up to date,” he said. “The decor is reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s. We didn’t want to do what everyone else is doing. We wanted to cater to the residents with what they will identify with.”
Bowdon Mayor Jim Watts said the assisted-care facility is coming at a time when the city needs it most, especially with the recent loss of the Carlisle Tire and Wheel plant and its 340 workers who bolstered the town’s economic tax base.
“Memory Lane is going to be a big economic boost after having lost Carlisle,” Watts said. “This will also be the only extended-living area in Bowdon. It will be a big benefit to a lot of seniors who want to stay local and a big benefit for Bowdon.”
Memory Lane will employ about 30 people to help the elderly with everything from daily care assistance to activities, and Cheney said the company is hiring local workers to fill those positions. Cheney said the facility already has four residents waiting to move in once it opens.
Watts, who said he was thrilled about the facility finally nearing its grand opening, designed the oak rocking chairs that will allow residents to sit on the front porch.
The Alzheimer’s wing, Cheney said, was designed with security measures to keep its residents safe, while also providing a place for those who had been living in the assisted-care facility before being diagnosed to have a place to go without having to leave the community.
“There is a need for this in Bowdon,” he said. “There are a lot of residents that have lived here their whole life but then had to go somewhere else to another assisted living community outside the city.”
Cheney said another unique aspect the company created is a 24-hour cafe bistro inside the facility that has large windows, allowing lots of natural light.
“Some people might not want to eat at 5 p.m.,” he said. “Why should they have to eat at 5 p.m. if they don’t want to? We designed the cafe so if they want to have some toast and tea at 3 a.m. they can do that here.”
The name Memory Lane, Cheney said, came after the company decided to decorate with relics from half a century ago.
“It is reminiscent of the happy times when somebody can look back to when they were growing up and remember all of the fond memories,” he said.
Anita Hellmig, vice president of operations for Southeast Senior Management Group, said the facility’s location in Bowdon will also make it easier for families living in Bowdon to visit their aging loved ones, which is something they did not have as an option before.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, about 17 percent of the city’s residents are over the age of 62, and with nowhere nearby catering to the aging population, Hellmig said it could be difficult on family and friends of the elderly in need of assisted care.
“From the beginning to the end, our mission is about making it as much as their home, so they can age in a place with dignity and respect and to have fun with the activities,” she said.
For more information about Memory Lane Assisted Living Community, call 770-876-3127.