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New senior home coming to Auburn?

Facility specializing in care for residents with special needs, developer says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn could be seeing a new senior residential care facility in the near future. The Auburn Planning Commission is scheduled to decide whether to go forward on a 14-bed, approximately 5,364-square-foot Autumn Gardens Residential Care Facility for the Elderly at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The facility would be located at 185 Kenmass Ave., across from eastbound Interstate 80. According to Lance Lowe, associate planner for the city of Auburn, Frank Prach, owner of Designs 1st in Auburn, is requesting a design review and tree permit for the property. Lowe said this type of facility is permitted in the multiple-family zoning in the neighborhood. The facility would provide care for seniors 60 years and older, Lowe said. According to city documents, the project would require the removal of about 10 native trees, and Lowe said Prach has submitted a landscaping plan that mitigates their removal. According to city documents, three of the trees are categorized as “dead” and require no mitigation. Another tree is rated as dangerous or non-correctable and also does not require mitigation. The remaining trees require some or total replacement on the property. The facility would operate under and be licensed by the California Department of Social Services, according to the city. Prach said he and his wife, Jane Sluse, already operate a similar facility called Almond Gardens Residential Care Facility for the Elderly on Almond Street in Auburn. “It actually came about because my wife has experience in elder care, and I used to build really large facilities down in Southern California,” Prach said. Prach said when his father became ill and the couple was taking care of him at home, they decided to build their first facility in Auburn because they had the experience. “We specialize in special-need elders — a non-ambulatory, light dementia care, that kind of thing,” he said. “It’s a very well-regarded reputation with Almond Gardens, and we wanted to extend that. We have 24/7 staff and they get full care. At Almond we are rated for hospice care also, and that is something that we will obviously continue on over at Autumn Gardens.” The Almond Gardens facility has eight beds and a waiting list, so there seemed to be a need for another location, Prach said. “(We want to start building) as soon as we can right after the hearing and … we are not anticipating any problems at the hearing tomorrow night,” Prach said. “So, we are hoping to start immediately, and it will probably take about 8 months to build.” Lowe said there is a 10-day appeal period if the Planning Commission OK’s the project. If it were appealed, the project would go before City Council for a decision. Prach said the building is going to be constructed in a Tuscan style, and he feels it will be a nice addition to the city. Prach said the cost of construction and purchase of the land is about $1 million, and the company plans on hiring 10 to 15 staff members after it is complete. Kenmass Avenue resident Pam Ori said Monday she didn’t have enough information to give an opinion about the project, but she didn’t have a problem with construction on the property. “I was going to go to the meeting to get more information,” Ori said. “I can’t form an opinion without knowing what it’s about. I’m not opposed to having something down on the corner. That’s been vacant for a long time.” Walsh Street resident Kelsi Johnson said she likes the idea of the development being around the corner from her home because of the help it could give to seniors in need. “I think that is really nice if they have something like that,” Johnson said. “With all the bad in the world, I feel like we need something nice.” Lowe said the city hasn’t heard any response about the project from surrounding neighbors. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com