Retirement center plans still in works

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2000

Plans to build a Methodist retirement center in Natchez are in the early fundraising stages, officials said this week. &uot;If the fundraising project comes out positive, we’re definitely coming (to Natchez),&uot; said Natalie Cochran, Development Director of the United Methodist Senior Services of Mississippi Inc. &uot;It’s just a matter of finishing that fundraising phase.&uot;

Estimated costs for the project run around $7 million, which will be funded through rent and money raised during a fundraising campaign. The facility will be located on donated property next to Beau Pre Country Club on U.S. 61 South.

The amount of rent for senior citizens living at the facility still has to be determined based on the community and the amount of money raised initially.

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&uot;From that we have to determine what we can afford in monthly payments with 70 residents living there paying a rent that’s affordable to them,&uot; Cochran said.

Cochran said the nonprofit group did a market study and decided the Natchez area can support a mix of 40 one and two bedroom independent living apartments on a long-term basis.

The area could actually support 65 immediately now but that is too many to maintain occupancy levels in the future, Cochran said.

The area can also support 30 personal care units – a form of housing that provides meals, medication monitoring and other assistance to seniors who need that help, Cochran said.

United Methodist Senior Services already operates 11 nondenominational facilities across the state, which serve 1,600 people on-campus and 900 people off-campus, Cochran said.

It has been working to develop a facility in Natchez for at least two years.

&uot;A lot of times, especially with not-for-profits, it seems like things move so slow,&uot; said Cochran, but she added everything seems positive for the Natchez facility right now.

A steering committee will meet in Natchez next week to discuss fundraising and the final design of the facility, Cochran said.

Officials expect to perform a fundraising feasibility study in January and February and hopefully begin a fundraising campaign in March, Cochran said.

Fundraising will last about a year and construction will take from 12 to 18 months, with an estimated completion date of spring 2003.