Inside the halls of Riverview Senior Living it’s impossible to miss signs that move-in day isn’t far off.
Indicators of progress — including illuminated doorbells outside of rooms — are present on virtually every surface in nearly every space of the almost completed assisted-living community for older adults that’s located in Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley.
“This is a project that’s been needed for a long time,” Carrie Pusich, community relations director for Riverview Senior Living, told the Empire before sharing a glimpse of the in-progress site. “The time is finally here, the doors will be opening in May.”
A project with history
Once move-in day arrives — scheduled for the first week of May — it will be the fruition of decades of efforts.
“It’s the culmination of a longtime dream,” said Sioux Douglas, a member of Senior Citizens Support Services Inc., in a phone interview. SCSSI is a group that had long advocated for additional housing for older adults. “It’s producing what we have to believe is going to be a gorgeous new community for our town. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
That ambition took steps toward reality in 2019 when development group Torrey Pines purchased the site of what would become Riverview for $1.52 million, in 2020 when the city approved a $2 million grant and 12-year tax abatement for the project, and in September 2021 when ground broke on Riverview.
Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale, who is the Assembly Liaison to the Juneau Commission on Aging, said she is immensely grateful for the dedicated volunteers who pushed for housing for older adults and that the decision to support Riverview is an example of the Assembly learning what works in supporting development.
Hale said she knows several people who will be moving into Riverview and are eager to do so. It’s a group of acquaintances that includes a man who will be moving from a roughly 2,400-square-foot house into a 600-square-foot apartment. That kind of move creates available housing in Juneau, which remains a major priority for the Assembly.
“I’m just really excited about it,” Hale said of Riverview, adding that Juneau residents can expect the Assembly to continue working with developers on projects that address housing needs.
While a tight housing market, an aging population and need for assisted living are all realities in Juneau — and among the reasons the City and Borough of Juneau supported Riverview — there are still some Riverview apartments available.
Pusich said 70% of Riverview’s 58 assisted-living apartments are spoken for, but six one-bedroom apartments and nine studio apartments are still available. On average, a one-bedroom apartment is 545 square feet and a studio apartment is 415 square feet.
Additionally, Pusich said reservations are just now opening for the 29 apartments in the Memory Care Neighborhood, an area of Riverview for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease that features the engagement-focused Live Intentionally Program.
She said she anticipates the apartments will see additional interest as people are able to tour Riverview.
“I think people want to see what Riverview has to offer before they decide,” Pusich said. “They want to feel comfortable with where their loved one is if they’re making the decision for them.”
Pusich said the monthly rate for Riverview Senior Living is comparable to other assisted-living communities in the state, the cost can also depend on the type of assistance a resident receives, and encouraged potential residents to reach out for a quote.
A 2021 cost of care survey by Genworth, an insurance company that’s tracked the cost of long-term care services nationally since 2004, found that assisted living costs $6,830 on average. In light of recent inflation, that’s the equivalent of nearly $7,583 today, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator.
Pusich noted that the cost of an assisted-living community represents paying for more than just rent. She said that might mean daily reminders to take medication or assistance putting on compression socks.
“This isn’t independent living,” Pusich said.
In the meantime
There’s still over a month to go until early May when Riverview’s first residents will begin moving in, and a couple of months between now and its June 3 public grand opening.
Before those events happen, Riverview staff will be sharing additional information about Riverview. Part of that effort will be a 3-5 p.m. Saturday event in the Baranof Hotel’s Treadwell room that will include music, refreshments, door prizes and Riverview Senior Living’s team of directors.
Directors include Zharajai “Nurse Z” Indoung, resident services director; John David, culinary director; Jessica Gray, memory care director; Graham Chaytors, environmental services director; and Sandra Lujan, business manager.
Staffing up in other areas is in the works, too.
Caretakers, kitchen staff, dining staff, housekeeping and med techs are lined up to be onboarded in April. Next month — more specifically mid-April — is also when people can expect to be able to tour Riverview, Pusich said. Tours can be scheduled now by calling her at (907)723-2282.
“I think people are going to be very pleased with what they see,” Pusich said.
Know & Go
What: Riverview Senior Living information event
When: 3-5 p.m., Saturday, April 1
Where: Treadwell Room, Baranof Downtown, 127 N. Franklin St.
Admission: The event is free, but RSVPs are required. To RSVP, email Cpusich@northstarsl.com.