A new senior living community is in the works on the McMillan Mesa area, as plans for the Highgate Senior Living Facility were laid out before City Council Tuesday night. City officials broke down the rezoning procedures for the land where Highgate is seeking to construct the facility.

The parcel is located on the corner of North Jasper Drive and North Gemini Drive.

Highgate Senior Living CEO Marjorie Todd explained the goals of their proposed 87-bed facility with a focus on memory care.

Vice Mayor Adam Shimoni asked Todd if the company was local, and Todd answered no, that the company was based in Washington, but she herself had purchased a home here a few years back and loved the town. She further explained that her company liked focusing on creating senior living in small towns like Flagstaff.

"Just to be clear, who we're seeking to serve is a variety of elderly. Perhaps they need, or perhaps they desire just some help with meals or laundry, transportation and that kind of thing," Todd said. "Or perhaps they need full assistance with their activities in daily living. Bathing, dressing, teeth brushing, assistance with eating or help in and out of a bed or wheelchair."

They will coordinate with hospice care when needed to ensure that no matter what happens to someone they do not have to move.

Todd further explained that Coconino County's 65 and older demographic is growing faster than then national average, and the other senior living centers currently have waitlists.

"The 65 to 74 year old demographic [in Coconino County] is growing at 6.7% versus the US growth rate of 4.5%," Todd said.

She also mentioned that she had been in contact with the assisted living communities already within Flagstaff and they had been telling her that they had waitlists of people trying to get care.

The council was mostly supportive of the proposal but did have a few concerns. Councilmember Jamie Wheelan wondered if traffic congestion would get worse in the area with any new construction in McMillan Mesa. Todd stated that the approximately 75 to 85 proposed employees would be working in three shifts throughout the day that could be flexible to avoid high congestion times on the road.

She also mentioned that on average only around 10% of their residents own cars, for which they do provide parking.

Councilmember Regina Salas talked about why she thought it was important for the center to be built.

"I was born and raised in the Philippines, and I was raised by grandma for 13 years. In the Philippines we don't have this kind of assisted living and in the last two years my grandmother struggled with dementia and Alzheimer's, it wasn't easy," Salas said.

The council voted to continue moving forward with Todd and Highgate Senior Living to construct the assisted living community.

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