WATERLOO — Friendship Village is planning to tear down and completely rebuild its original retirement community campus.

Friends of Faith Retirement Homes Inc., which opened Friendship Village at Park Lane and West Ninth Street in 1968, will be investing $70 million in reconstructing its independent living apartments and skilled nursing center.

The project, expected to start in 2019, will be developed in several phases to avoid displacing existing residents during the process.

“Some of the original Friendship Village facilities are nearing the end of their useful lives,” said Mike Young, an attorney for the nonprofit senior housing agency.

“There were a number of options that the leadership of Friendship Village looked at, and some involved moving away. But they made the commitment to redevelop and reinvest in this neighborhood in these facilities where they’ve spent 50 years and are looking spend 50 more years.

“When it’s done it will be a first-class facility that the neighborhood and the city and the Cedar Valley can be very proud of,” he added.

The Waterloo Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse a zoning request and special permit for the project.

Friendship Village has been working with the surrounding home owners to address any concerns. There was no opposition during a public hearing before the zoning panel.

The project involves replacing the approximately 100-unit independent living building with a new four-story, 73-unit building. It also includes replacing the existing 72-unit skilled nursing center on the campus.

The site plan shows two future senior apartment buildings and a 36- to 48-unit assisted living center. Those buildings, which are on top of the $70 million initial investment, would be constructed based on future market conditions.

Friendship Village President and CEO Lisa Gates said the new independent living building will have 850- and 1,150-square-foot suites, larger than existing units that can be as small as 400 square feet.

The campus will have multiple dining centers, a recreation center and an indoor swimming pool.

Friendship Village stopped new admissions some time ago to prepare for the rebuilding project. That clears the way to phase the new construction around existing residents.

“We take care of our family,” Gates said.

Plans show the first phase of the work will demolish the east wing of the independent living building along with garages. Then a new four-story, 154,300-square-foot independent living building will be constructed along the far eastern edge of the campus.

The next phase includes demolition of the rest of the original independent living building, followed by construction of a new two-story, 57,700-square-foot skilled nursing facility. The original skilled nursing facility will then be torn down.

Gates said Friendship Village is preparing to pre-sell units in the new facility.

The project does not affect other Friends of Faith living facilities, including Village Place, Landmark Commons, Lakeview Lodge, Lakeview Landing or Rosewood Estate.