Koelsch Communities breaks ground on $108 million senior living community in Vancouver

The community – called University Village – is scheduled to be completed in July of 2022 and will offer residents two luxury options

This rendering shows what the pavilion area of the University Village senior community will look like. Courtesy of Koelsch Communities

When talking about University Village – one of Koelsch Communities’ newest senior living communities that just broke ground in the Vancouver area at 12921 NE Rockwell Drive – President and CEO of Koelsch Communities Aaron Koelsch said they are very thrilled to be able to build on that specific location.

“(The location) was not always a given, a Walmart was actually supposed to be built there, but there was some resistance to Walmart and we actually purchased the land directly from them,” Koelsch said. “We decided to name the community University Village because we plan to have a close association with educational classes either on the campus or at the WSU Vancouver campus. This location is also close to the hospital and close to professional doctors’ offices in the area; it’s also close to shopping and restaurants. Not every location we look at will you find all of those things.”

Currently, Koelsch said they have been working at the site to complete all of the dirt and underground work, utilities, etc. He said there should be some framing going up in the next two weeks or so.

Although Koelsch said the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t delay the project too much, he said it did cause some delays with their financing. However, that coupled with any other delays that came from the pandemic or pushed them back by about 60 days or so, he said.

“We are very fortunate because the project still went forward while there were many projects that fell by the wayside at that time,” Koelsch said.

The $108 million project will not only provide 140 independent living suites and 26 cottages, as well as an additional 101 assisted-living apartments for seniors needing a little extra help, but Koelsch said the completed project will also bring 135-150 jobs to the Vancouver area on the University Village campus. At the height of construction on the project, he said the project will bring about 60-70 construction jobs.

The University Village community is slated to be completed by July 2022, and Koelsch said many residents should be able to move in at that time. Since the independent living apartments and cottages don’t need a license from the state, those will be move-in ready first, with the assisted living structure trailing behind by about 45-60 days.

A bistro is just one of numerous amenities that residents of University Village senior community will be able to enjoy. Courtesy of Koelsch Communities

Planned services at University Village include licensed nurses and staff onsite 24 hours a day; five-star cuisine curated by royal chef Darren McGrady and prepared by in-house chefs seven days a week; concierge service; housekeeping; transportation services; regular excursions; and of course utilities, cable, internet and much more.

The gated community will include some special attention to small details, Koelsch said, such as foot heaters in every bathroom on the campus, a covered pool and spa, numerous common areas such as a movie theater, bistro and wine bar, library, art studio, fitness studio and plenty of other spaces for the residents to enjoy and host their own parties.

The project will be managed by Koelsch Communities and developed by Koelsch in partnership with RJ Development. Koelsch Construction will also act as the project’s general contractor, with interior design by Judy Koelsch (Aaron’s wife) of JSK Design.

In 1979, Koelsch Communities made a name for themselves in Vancouver with the first local senior living communities — Cascade Inn, followed by The Hampton Inn at Salmon Creek and The Ashley Inn. Koelsch said that Koelsch Communities represents about 70 communities across the U.S., with the company’s greatest concentration of communities in Washington state. Although the company home is currently in Olympia, Koelsch communities first started out in Kelso in 1958 when Kolesch’s parents bought an old empty senior living community and moved themselves and all five of their children into the basement of the facility while they got the company started.

“My parents bought or built every nursing home in Cowlitz County, with the exception of one,” Koelsch said.

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.