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As age 65-plus population rises, Grand Forks Senior Center plans to build second branch

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 The Grand Forks Senior Center has decided on a site for a second branch and a date to start construction, according to officials.

The new facility, expected to cost $8 million to $9 million, will be part of a senior housing complex in the city’s booming south end. Southeast of the site is Choice Health & Fitness and the proposed location of a new Hugo’s grocery store.

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“We want to go where the growth is happening,” said spokeswoman Jami Schumacher.

Before construction begins, tentatively scheduled for 2017, the center will start a $1 million renovation of its existing facility near the DeMers Avenue overpass in the north end.

“We want people to know that we’re keeping and updating the current center,” Schumacher said.

Officials are unsure which facility will house which service or activity when both are operating, but the plan is to limit duplication.

The new facility is expected to be open in 2018.

Boomers

The retirement of the Baby Boomer generation is driving the need for space, according center officials.

They cite projections that show the number of Grand Forks County residents age 65 and older increasing 62 percent by 2025. The new generation of retirees is expected to require more space than previous generations, and not just because of their numbers.

They retire at a younger age, further increasing the number of people wanting services and activities, and they have more varied tastes for senior facilities to cater to, according to center officials.

“Boomers like more options,” Schumacher said. “Their interest is more broad.”

Boomers are characterized as being born between 1946 and 1964. The oldest reached retirement age in 2011.

The demand on senior centers is also growing because people live longer now and the term “seniors” now represent two or even three generations, according to Becky Cournia, the senior center’s fundraiser.

“We try to meet the needs of all individuals here,” she said.

The new south-end facility will have 30,000 square feet of space, about double the existing facility. The 2.2 acres site, worth an estimated $500,000, was donated by Tim and Sandy Crary and Paul and Susie Sproule of Grand Forks.

The center will be part of housing development, including senior housing, to be built by Enclave Companies, which is owned by Austin Morris and Ben Meland. It's in an area west of South Washington and two blocks west and four blocks north of Choice fitness center.

“Boomers have transformed the culture just by their sheer numbers,” Schumacher said. “That’s a lot of wealth you can keep in town and also a lot of power and wisdom.”

 
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