Lutheran Village launches project Bequest provides spark for $12 million expansion

September 16, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Propelled by a former resident's large bequest, the Carroll Lutheran Village Retirement Community held a ceremonial groundbreaking yesterday for a $12.1 million building project featuring a new assisted-living wing, a dementia unit and a chapel.

Westminster City Council approved a resolution supporting the expansion at its meeting last week, a move that will allow the nonprofit retirement community to obtain favorable interest rates on a $10 million industrial revenue bond.

Four local banks -- Union National Bank, Westminster Bank & Trust, Taneytown Bank & Trust Co. and Carroll County Bank & Trust Co. -- "have come together and helped us with the financing," said Geary K. Milliken, executive director of Lutheran Village.

"These four banks made a real effort because we have been a real good business partner with them," he said. "It's a real opportunity to keep business local and to go ahead with our plans."

The City Council action allows the village to finance the project at a tax-exempt rate.

The new facility will be built into the hillside at the 84-acre Lutheran Village site, which sits above Route 31 at the edge of the city. It is to be connected to the existing apartment buildings and health center by an enclosed glass walkway.

The renovation of the health center, consolidation of two kitchens and other improvements are part of the construction package.

"Assisted-living care was our No. 1 goal," said Michele S. Crew, director of fund development and communications.

The unit will offer apartment-style living, providing help with such needs as medications and meals.

The new building will be named Diven House to honor Evlyn Emerine Diven, a resident of the village for more than 10 years, who bequeathed $1,991,500 toward an assisted-living complex upon her death in April 1994.

"We were very fortunate," Crew said. "This is a gift that many organizations never see. She left us the bulk of her estate, $1.9 million in 1995 -- and that gave us the impetus to go ahead with this."

Diven was a teacher and a counselor in Baltimore-area schools for 40 years and taught at Hamilton Junior High School when she retired in 1966. She and her husband, John, an engineer and surveyor in Carroll and Baltimore counties, moved to the village in the mid-1980s and celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary there. He died before her.

"She made a lot of friends here," Crew said. "She knew the value of the village."

"There has always been a plan to do this," Milliken said of the expansion, and her bequest "really gave us a push, put us in a financial situation where we could do it."

The assisted-living unit will have 50 apartments and will include administrative offices and support services for the entire complex. The new building will have two stories at the front and one story at the back, according to the preliminary plan by Baltimore architects Cochran Stephenson & Donkervoet Inc.

The planning committee also saw a need in the Westminster area for a dementia unit, to serve people with Alzheimer's and other conditions that cause mental disorientation, Crew said, "and we felt that was something we wanted to incorporate into the project."

The village opened in 1980, founded by congregations of the Westminster Conference of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, although admission is open to all, Crew said.

The current complex has 48 cottages and 208 apartments for independent living, with a 99-bed health-care center. There is a 1 1/2 - to 3-year wait for independent-living units.

Carroll Lutheran Village, one of Carroll County's top 20 employers, has a work force of more than 220 people, Crew said, and the new facilities will add an as-yet-undetermined number of jobs.

Milliken said construction probably won't begin before November or December. It should be completed in mid-1998.

The master plan has been approved by the city, Milliken said, and the project appears to have the support of the community.

This was indicated by the contributions received before fund raising had officially begun -- about $2.5 million, including Evlyn Diven's gift, Milliken said. Because part of the $10 million bond will refinance existing debt, he said about $1 million more is needed for construction.

The village is about to launch a formal public appeal to raise the last $1 million.

"People have just been giving to it already, because they know it's coming,"' Crew said. "What it tells you is that there's a tremendous need -- and tremendous support."

Pub Date: 9/16/96

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