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New Retirement Living Concept Coming to Tallahassee


Tallahassee, which is historically among the youngest places in Florida, is steadily adding more seniors to its population. That’s creating boom times for retirement living facilities, including a new concept in senior housing that’s now under construction.

The person who is the driving force behind the project is:

“Christopher Mulrooney, partner and chairman of the board for Villas at Killearn Lakes.”

Dr. Mulrooney – he holds a PhD from Boston University – is also the chief operating officer for the Faculty Practice Plan at the FSU College of Medicine. But his professional as well as academic life has been focused on the care and wellbeing of seniors. He’s also no newbie when it comes to managing retirement communities. Among his credentials in that arena, Mulrooney was the CEO of FSU’s short-lived Westcott Lakes retirement complex in Southwood, a casualty of the Great Recession. Even so, Mulrooney is the first to admit that the vast majority of older folks really don’t want to move.

“I mean let’s face it. Most of us would prefer to stay in our own homes as we age and need additional assistance. But the challenge of that is it just isn’t always realistic. It may not be realistic financially, it may not be realistic physically in terms of how our house is set up if we need some equipment and such. And it may not make sense socially, because sometimes we can become isolated if we’re in our own home even. So we’re trying to address those issues while not letting go of ‘the home.’”

Hence, Mulrooney explained, the difference driving the Villas at Killearn Lakes concept.

“Villas at Killearn Lakes is part of a national movement called the ‘small house’ movement. The term ‘small house’ tends to suggest a very, very small or tiny house, which is really a totally separate movement. That’s not what this is about. The term ‘small house’ here is a term that describes the relative size to a traditional assisted living community or a traditional nursing home.”

Most of which, he said, are huge, dormitory-like structures exceeding 10,000 square feet. Instead, Mulrooney said these “villas” will essentially be multi-resident cottages.

“We will have nine villas eventually in a two-phase construction. The first phase is 6 villas and each of those villas will be home to 12 elders. And when I use the term ‘Elder’ I mean with a capital “E.” It’s not necessarily related to age, but really related to wisdom and recognizing that the people who are there are people that staff and others like myself can learn a great deal from.”

This concept, Mulrooney insisted, will mean a higher quality of interactions and greater flexibility for both residents and staff. He added the facility will be able to provide as much assisted care as needed for as long as the resident decides to stay.

“Villas at Killearn Lakes we hope will be licensed at the highest level of assisted living, which is called ‘extended congregant care.’ That will enable people to age ‘in community’ through the end of their lives if they choose to do so. And so we’ll be able to serve a population that has certainly personal care needs and even nursing needs if we bring in additional nursing and home health staff.”

Also, because the Villas’ construction is far less extensive – and expensive – than a typical retirement facility, Mulrooney claimed it’ll be more affordable. The formal groundbreaking took place in early May and now Mulrooney said building is underway in earnest.

“We do hope to open by early 2019. We have completed much of the site work and are about to pour the first foundation in the next couple of weeks. So we’re hoping to have our first villa as we call it going vertical within a month.”

www.villasatkillearnlakes.com. Telephone: 850-391-1754

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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