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Raven Landing Gets Financing to Expand, Meet Growing Need for Senior Housing

Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks

Raven Landing Senior housing facility in Fairbanks will begin work soon on an expansion project. The Retirement Community of Fairbanks has secured a loan to help finance a $7.4 million 35-unit addition to the facility off Airport Way. The expansion is aimed at meeting a growing need for senior housing in the Interior.

It’s lunchtime at Raven Landing, and residents have packed the dining area in facility’s airy, sunlit Community Center to enjoy the food and the company.

“Nutrition and socialization are the two biggest factors,” says Raven Landing General Manager Susan Motter. “Once the nutrition is in them, they’re able to do more. And they need to interact with people.”

Motter says Raven Landing enables residents to avoid the hassle and expense of maintaining a household. And to instead enjoy such senior-friendly amenities as on-call attendants, a beauty salon, even wi-fi.

And all that contributes to residents’ quality of life, says Karen Parr. She’s president of the Retirement Community of Fairbanks, the nonprofit that developed Raven Landing.

“Many people get healthier when they get here. In fact, most people do,” Parr said. “They’ve got something to do, people to talk to. A positive environment.”

Parr has spearheaded development of the 60-unit facility and was among the first to move in when it opened in 2010. She says it’s the only senior housing facility of its kind in Fairbanks, and one of only a handful in Alaska – which is why its apartments always are occupied, and its waiting list now has 156 names.

Credit Tim Ellis/KUAC
Retirement Community of Fairbanks President Karen Parr, left, and Susan Motter, Raven Landing general manager.

“They’re always full," she said. “They’ve been full from the beginning, they’re always full. Long waiting list.”

Demographics are driving that demand. The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development says Alaska has more Baby Boomers per capita than any other state. It says Boomers age 65 and older will be Alaska’s fastest-growing population segment over the next 25 years.

Parr, who’s lived in Fairbanks since 1961, says the demand for housing like Raven Landing also is driven by a desire by many seniors to stick around.

“A lot of us, my friends and I, didn’t want to leave Fairbanks at all,” she said. “This is where our lifelong friends are. This is where our families settled.”

Parr says that’s why the facility is named after the iconic bird that stays here, and doesn’t migrate.

“This is a landing for ravens. The survivors. This is where we land.”

Parr says the Retirement Community of Fairbanks wants to expand Raven Landing to help meet that demand. She says it’s the only senior independent-living facility, not an assisted-living facility, which offers a higher level of care. It’s for seniors who can care for themselves and who have a lot of life to live.

“This is a place you come because you want to enjoy the last 10 or 20 years of your life. And have it be productive, and fun, and free of as many responsibilities as possible.”

Single-bedroom apartment rents begin at around $2,000 a month. Parr says the 35-unit expansion project will include a few studios that’ll cost less.

She says the lender notified her Friday afternoon that it has approved financing for the project. She says work will begin work right away, and that the project will be completed in time for the first tenants to move in around January.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.