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August 4, 2021

Planned memory care center in Bridgton, slowed by rising construction costs, will break ground soon

Courtesy / Woodlands Senior Living In Bridgton, Woodlands Senior Living is preparing to break ground on a 48-bed memory care center, shown in this rendering. The expected project cost is $7 million.

Woodlands Senior Living LLC will break ground within weeks on a new memory care facility in Bridgton despite higher than originally expected costs and a difficult labor market.

Pending a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection, Woodlands plans to start construction in September at the latest with completion scheduled for the fall of 2022. The Bridgton Planning Board met in July and offered tentative approval for the facility, which will be a 48-bed center for people living with Alzheimer’s and related memory impairments.

“We’re committed to being in Bridgton despite significantly higher than anticipated costs. Project costs have gone up 25% in the past six to eight months, but that’s not going to keep us from doing this,” Matthew Walters, managing member of Woodlands Senior Living, told Mainebiz.

Woodlands currently expects construction costs to be about $7 million for the 24,000-square-foot facility. The center will serve 48 private paying and MaineCare-eligible clients. It also will feature a beauty salon, a physical and occupational therapy center and outdoor courtyard.

Higher benefits and labor costs, as well as supply-chain challenges have all added to the escalated costs, Walters said. Woodlands plans to order supplies ranging from furniture to medical products months sooner than usual to accommodate delays in getting products amid the ongoing pandemic.

Woodlands, which is a Maine-based, family-owned company, hired Senior Spec Construction LLC in Gardiner to oversee the project. The Bridgton center, which will be on North High Street, will mark the sixth project Senior Spec has done for Woodlands.

Walters said the Bridgton project is similar to centers in Lewiston, Madison and Farmington. The size and scope of the project will be familiar to Senior Spec and allow construction to proceed smoothly. 

“We’ve been looking in the greater Bridgton lakes region for some time. There’s no specialized memory care centers in that area and a lot of people are traveling an hour or more to get care for loved ones. It’s an underserved need,” Walters said.

In choosing Bridgton, the company looked at the population density within a 20-mile radius to draw clients as well as employees to care for them. Woodlands expects to have 30 to 35 employees upon completion.

Woodlands, which operates 15 assisted living and memory care communities in nine locations throughout Maine, does not anticipate any special challenges in the Bridgton project except for being new to the market. Bridgton would be the furthest facility from Woodlands’ home base in the Waterville-Augusta markets and will require some marketing and education to build a relationship with the community and prospective clients.

Woodlands has no other immediate locations planned at this time.

Walters said the company is seeing a tough labor market currently as enhanced unemployment benefits and other pandemic-related stimulus money flows through the state. Many of those benefits will end in September, making it likely easier to hire workers, he said. Woodlands also revamped and enhanced its employee benefit package, in part to compete with nearby Bridgton Hospital.

“We believe things will be better from a labor participation level a year from now,” Walters said. “In 40 years, our company had never had such a sustained rut in the ability to recruit employees throughout the state.”

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