North Star Retirement & Assisted Living Community, in Coeur d’Alene, has been full for the last year, and a planned new addition is almost completely reserved, says Becky Georgius, a family adviser and marketing specialist at North Star.
The growing complex, located at 2340 W. Seltice Way, just north of the Riverstone development, currently has 104 independent-living apartments and 27 assisted-living units, Georgius says.
“In the last 12 months, we’ve had an occupancy rate of 99 percent or more,” she says. “Having a bit of a waiting list means people want to live here.”
An addition currently under construction, which is scheduled to open this spring, will add another 14 assisted-living units, and North Star has received deposits for most of the new units.
“We’re booking for the new addition, and we only have a couple of apartments left,” she says.
Klemo Construction LLC, of Post Falls, is the contractor on the $750,000 assisted-living addition, and Architecture CDA PLLC, of Coeur d’Alene, designed it.
Georgius claims two big differences that help North Star stand out among area retirement communities are its Fireside Restaurant all-day dining facility and the variety of activities it offers to residents.
“All-day dining is a huge freedom,” she says. “There’s no assigned seating and no set meal times.”
The full-service-style restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and offers a large menu with fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Everybody has such a personal schedule, and dining is tailored to their schedule rather than having them conform to ours,” she says, adding, “You can get a waffle at 2 in the afternoon if you want.”
Supper options include fresh catch of the day and steak.
North Star also offers a bounty of activities. While it’s common for retirement communities to have an activity director, North Star has a full-time activity staff of three people, Georgius says.
“Our schedule of fun things to do sometimes has 12 to 15 choices,” she says.
Activities include cocktail socials, Bible studies, exercise classes, and dinner theater, among others, she says.
“We have several trips out in the community for restaurant trips or plays or theater,” she says. “You can be as busy or as still as you want.”
North Star is a private-pay facility, Georgius says.
Apartments range in size from 300-square-foot studio units to 900-square-foot two-bedroom units, and all apartments have full kitchens and baths.
Monthly rental rates for independent-living apartments range from $1,700 to $3,050, and monthly rates for assisted-living apartments range from $2,650 to $3,360. A monthly fee of $750 is added to the base rent for double occupancy.
For independent-living residents, rent includes two daily meals, weekly housekeeping, utilities, cable TV, Wi-Fi, activity programs, scheduled transportation, and a laundry facility.
Assisted-living amenities also include a third daily meal and personal laundry.
Additional assisted-living care services range from $750 to $1,750 a month.
Assisted-living services include help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming, dining, and medication management.
“Independent living is when you’re ready for a chef, a chauffeur, and a housekeeper,” Georgius says. “Assisted living is when you also need help with personal care.”
North Star residents range in age from 64 to 104 years old, she says, adding that the average age among residents is 80.
About half of North Star’s residents are longtime North Idaho residents. Most of the rest are parents of adult children who’ve come from around the country to retire in North Idaho themselves, Georgius says.
“We have a lot of parents of retiring law officials and health care professionals from California,” she adds.
North Star has an ambassadors club that welcomes new residents, and many residents find new friends in the North Star community, Georgius says.
Often, new residents come to North Star after having lived alone a few years following the loss of a spouse, and they’ve forgotten how much they enjoy socializing, she says.
“Their kids might say their mom isn’t very social, but she just hasn’t had the opportunity,” Georgius says.
She boasts that North Star staff has lower employee turnover than most comparable retirement communities.
“Most of our department heads have been here four to 15 years,” she says.
North Star has a total staff of 59 employees. The facility has two full-time nurses, who are on call on nights and weekends. The round-the-clock staff includes medical technicians, certified nurse assistants, and caregivers.
Georgius says she anticipates the total staff size will grow “into the 70s” when the new addition comes on line. She says the company will start seeking new employees toward the end of February, with most hiring occurring in March.
The original building was constructed in 1994.
“It may not be the newest building in town, but it’s got a warm, welcoming feeling,” Georgius says.
Stellar Senior Living LLC, a Salt Lake City-based retirement center owner-operator, bought the former Fairwinds Coeur d’Alene retirement center and renamed it North Star in 2012.
Stellar Senior Living, a family-owned corporation, operates seven retirement communities throughout the West and is developing an eighth facility in Utah.
Georgius, whose career background includes restaurant management and hospitality sales, says she got into the retirement-community field at another facility five years ago, almost by accident.
“I was looking for a community for my own grandmother and basically was offered a job during that process,” she says.
Georgius says she met the Stellar Senior Living founder three years ago through a chance encounter.
“We struck up a conversation and it was an immediate fit,” she says. “I wish I would have found this industry 15 or 20 years ago. I get to walk in here every day and have 145 extra grandparents.”
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