New management takes over historic building

The senior apartment building, once a stately hotel that served Springfield’s affluent residents and visitors, has been owned since 2001 by developer Model Group, which renovated the historic building extensively in 2009.

Model Group will share ownership in a partnership with the new managers, the nonprofit Episcopal Retirement Homes.

Model Group’s development emphasis is on historical renovation and neighborhood revitalization, while ERH has extensive experience with senior living centers, said Model Group President Steve Smith at a reception marking the change in management Tuesday afternoon.

“This building has been a pleasure to own for many years,” Smith said. “Episcopal Retirement Homes’ passion is around seniors and how we can deliver the best living experience for those seniors.”

The building is Model Group’s first management partnership with ERH, and Smith expects that the partnership will extend to other buildings owned by the company in other counties.

The nonprofit will work with the local Christ Episcopal Church to provide spiritual services for the building’s residents, said Kathy Ison-Lind, vice president for affordable housing and in-home services with ERH.

“They’re doing incredible things in terms of housing opportunities for our older, wiser residents, because they do want to create communities for them,” said Christ Episcopal Rev. Charlotte Reed. “We’re very excited about this partnership.”

Episcopal Retirement Homes plans to expand the services it can offer Shawnee Place residents by seeking grants, said Ison-Lind. Its nonprofit status allows it to bring in those additional dollars, which could be used to set up an exercise room or work on wellness programs.

The group also never asks a resident to leave one of its communities because of financial shortfalls, said Doug Spitler, president and CEO.

“The more community you have, the more you can have residents being neighbors to each other, and neighbors help neighbors,” said Ison-Lind. “Model does a really great job and they’re a great partner, they chose us because of the additional services we can add.”

The nonprofit also partners with a home-care company to provide free screening for common health problems such as high blood pressure, medication conflicts and diabetes.

Sharon Walls, 69, has lived at Shawnee Place for 13 years and said she is excited about the new management’s Christian emphasis, but will miss the old manager, Bonnie Young, who will retire at the end of the year.

“I’m very happy, extremely happy,” Walls said. “The manager has been wonderful, better than any manager I’ve met in my life.”

Jesse Sawyer, 83, said that he’s happy with the community as it is and hopes that the new management will also do a good job.

“It serves all my needs, and I don’t need much,” he said. “A lot of us are a bit apprehensive, we’ll have to see. They’re trying to get more participation, and that’s the most difficult thing.”