A possible new owner and operator has emerged for the former Notchcliff Life Care Community, a 215-unit residence for the elderly in Glen Arm whose original developers filed for bankruptcy in 1988.
Presbyterian Senior Services, a non-profit corporation formed by the Presbytery of Baltimore and Presbyterian Homes Inc. of Camp Hill, Pa., is seeking to operate the community as a non-profit, non-denominational facility called Glen Meadows.
Earlier this month, Presbyterian Senior Services obtained preliminary permission from Maryland's Office on Aging and the U.S. bankruptcy court to launch a marketing campaign designed to get the community on firm financial footing and bring it to full occupancy.
Before it can assume full control of the residence and begin admitting new residents, however, Presbyterian Senior Services must receive additional approvals from the Office on Aging and the bankruptcy court, based on progress it makes during an initial marketing period that will end Nov. 30.
Presbytery representatives say they are confident they can make it work.
"This is an entirely new operation, and it's structured in a way that we feel will be much more appealing to people," said the Rev. Herbert Valentine, executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Baltimore.
"It's a beautiful facility -- 483 acres of the prettiest property anywhere for people who like a country lifestyle," said marketing director Stephen Chapin.
If Presbyterian Senior Services receives permission to proceed with its plan, it will mark the end of more than three years of uncertainty for residents of the community, which opened in 1986 on the School Sisters of Notre Dame property on Glen Arm Road.
Notchcliff became the first -- and so far only -- life-care community in Maryland to go bankrupt when its original developers sought protection from creditors in 1988. That group was headed by Notchcliff Associates and Freestate Management Services, two groups headed by Chester Price and Richard Poteet.
The mortgage holder, which invested more than $19 million in the project, was a consortium of 11 banks and savings and loans headed by Commercial Bank in Harford County.
The community contains 101 apartments inside a former convent, 114 "patio homes" constructed nearby and a 16-bed nursing facility, but it was never able to attract the number of residents needed to break even.
When the community ran into financial trouble three years ago, state officials ordered its administrators not to admit any more residents until a new financial plan was approved.
Notchcliff Associates and Freestate subsequently filed for protection from creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. At that time, the community had about 100 residents for 215 units. The figure has since dwindled to 50.
Dr. Valentine said Presbyterian Senior Services plans to lower the entrance fee and monthly service fee as part of its effort to attract more residents. Also under the new plan, he said, the entire entrance fee will be refunded to the resident's estate at the time of his death. Such refunds are common at many life-care centers but were not part of the original fee structure for Notchcliff.
County zoning for the area allows construction of as many as 315 units. Dr. Valentine said Presbyterian Senior Services plans to spend up to $1.5 million initially to upgrade some of the residences and common areas.
It plans eventually to build the 100 additional residences allowed by the county as well as a 60-bed nursing facility, he said.
Under the new plan, entrance fees will range from $34,400 to $88,500 for apartments and $92,400 to $133,300 for the patio homes. Monthly service fees will range from $650 to $1,280.
EMA Management Inc. of Sykesville was appointed by the bankruptcy court to be the on-site manager for Glen Meadows and will remain in that role during the transition, Dr. Valentine said.