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Alzheimer’s center delayed

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Plans to build a memory care center in Sioux Falls for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have been delayed while developers work through regulatory issues with the state, according to a company official.

Construction was to have begun last fall on land off of Minnesota Avenue, at West 81st Street and South Audie Avenue, to open the Esprit of Sioux Falls facility this year, said Steve Westra, CEO of Esprit Memory Care.

Now, he said he’s unsure of a timeline but hopes to have “something accomplished” over the next six months to a year.

In the meantime, the company has moved forward with plans for two memory care centers in Nebraska.

Westra plans to break ground this summer on the 105,000-square-foot, 90-unit Esprit of Omaha building, also for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, for completion late next year.

Also this year, Westra plans to break ground in Lincoln on a 60-unit, Esprit of Lincoln center.

Both centers will be a combination of general assisted living and memory care, Westra said.

Westra has partnered on the projects with Paul Hegg and Kristen Hegg Zueger, both executives with Hegg Cos., a Sioux Falls real estate and development company.

“We see an increasing demand, we as a society are experiencing more and more people that are developing this horrible illness, and we wanted to be able to create a homelike environment to allow them to live with pride and dignity,” Westra said. “Create more opportunities rather than an institutionalized feel.”

Westra declined to comment specifically on which regulatory issues he’s working through with South Dakota.

“We are optimistic we’re going to see the facility in Sioux Falls built at some point, we’re working with the Department of Health with regards to their regulations, and how they view assisted living,” Westra said. “We are ready to go in Sioux Falls once we have things completed with the state.”

Westra has questioned the state’s current assisted-living center regulations and had some discussions with the Department of Health, public information officer Barb Buhler said in an email.

Buhler did not return multiple calls seeking further comment.

Plans for the Sioux Falls facility approved by the City Council last June call for 46 rooms with 56 beds for multistage Alzheimer’s patients. It includes the option to build a second wing that would create a total of 112 beds.

Westra said the land in Sioux Falls is under contract, and he just needs to finalize the agreement.

Reach reporter Sarah Reinecke at 331-2326.

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