DENVER — “Wind in the Willows” is a classic English children’s fantasy novel that sprung out of bedtime stories author Kenneth Grahame told his son.
Dave Larson, a former Denver City Council member, came up with a similarly named project, Willow Wind. But it’s no fantasy. It came out of a different dream — that seniors in Denver should have a place to stay in the same town they lived their entire lives — and not be isolated at home alone.
The dream is about to come true.
Willow Wind is a 24-unit assisted living community on the south end of Denver, adjacent to Brothers Market. The $4 million facility will be open and ready for occupancy in January.
It fills a community need, Larson said, and he has a proven track record. He runs the Walnut Court and Colonial Manor senior housing complexes in Waterloo. And he has a partner to make it work — Western Home Communities. Larson owns Willow Wind; Western Home will manage it.
Larson and Western Home worked together before on Walnut Court.
“They do a great job,” Larson said. “Great brand, good people that work there. Outstanding. No need to re-invent the wheel. They pretty much have it figured out.” In fact, the building is similar in appearance to many of the Western Home buildings on the South Main campus in Cedar Falls.
Amy Terrill, who grew up in Denver, will manage the facility. She previously worked 20 years at UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital on the north side of Waterloo, which serves many Denver residents.
Willow Wind has 17 one-bedroom units and seven two-bedroom units. It will have a marketing and activities coordinator, a beauty shop, community living room, transportation and other features. It also has a private dining area for family gatherings.
“The big thing I like about it is the social” aspects, Larson said. “It gives people an opportunity to be social with people in their own age group. They’re not homebound.”
The facility also provides three meals a day and laundry services. Residents also may have priority for higher level of care at other Western Home facilities if and when the need arises. The rooms feature wide doorways, walk-in closets and handicap accessible bathrooms.
The facility is almost done except for finishings and furnishings. “We started a year ago last September with dirt moving,” Larson said. But the project had been contemplated for a long time.
“My grandparents lived in Harmony, Minn., and they went to assisted living,” he said, and decided, “I had the senior housing with Colonial Manor and Walnut Court, and said, ‘This is something Denver should have.’
He said he talked to Western Home and moved ahead with the project. “And I would only go ahead and do it if the Western Home would manage it. There’s no way I would do it otherwise. Having that brand in our community, the Western Home brand, is priceless. Very fortunate they’re willing to manage this, and it works on their mission,” Larson said.
Western Home manages several other similar facilities around the area, Terrill said, including Cresco, Grundy Center and Jesup. “This will be modeled pretty closely to the one in Jesup,” she said, which is about 4 years old, with updates based on suggestions from that facility’s staff.
More information about Willow Wind may be obtained at (319) 984-5867.