The Scottish Home, 2800 Desplaines Ave. in North Riverside, will soon kick off a major capital campaign to raise money for the Caledonian House, a proposed assisted-living residence for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
North Riverside’s village board on March 4 unanimously agreed to two zoning variances for the new two-story building, which will be able to house 24 people. On March 18, the board will pass the ordinance making the decision official. The zoning variances are good for 12 months.
Gus Noble, president of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society, which operates the Scottish Home, said the new building is expected to cost between $5 million and $5.5 million. The society has not yet established a construction timeline and is just beginning its fundraising effort.
“We know we’re going to work very, very hard,” said Noble, “but we’ve been greatly encouraged about what people have said about Caledonian House.”
The Caledonian House (Caledonia is the ancient name for Scotland) will be located just northwest of the present Scottish Home facility, which was built in 1917 and expanded in the 1960s and again the late 1990s. The new building will be more residential in character both outside and inside, said Noble.
From the outside its half-timbered second story and stone first floor give the building the look of a Tudor residence. Inside, the building eschews an institutional look in favor of a more communal philosophy.
Each floor of the home will have 12 one-bedroom, one-bathroom units that open onto a central living and dining area. Each floor also has a library/guest area that is more private, but the main emphasis is on creating a sense of family and home, said Noble.
“The residential model is entirely consistent with our mission,” he added. “Gone are the long, double-loaded corridors.”
Instead of three different employees providing food service, housekeeping and nursing services, Noble said the plan for Caledonian House is for one employee to provide all three services. While it will mean additional training, Noble said it’s a way to connect the residents more closely with those caring for them.
“It increases the interaction between the resident and care provider,” Noble said. “We want to build best-in-class memory care in a non-institutional setting.”
The Scottish Home proposed a three-story, 30-unit version of the Caledonian House back in 2008. That plan also won the approval of the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, but the society mothballed it after the recession hit.
In February both the North Riverside Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals gave their blessing to the scaled-down version of the Caledonian House, along with other changes to the property in order to mitigate the impact of the new building on residents who live along 27th Street.
Key elements of the plan include the construction of a berm topped with evergreen trees along the 27th Street property line. The berm will serve as a screen and prevent visiting car headlights from shining on houses at night.
It also calls for all mechanical equipment to be located on the south side of the new building in order to prevent noise from disturbing residents on 27th Street.
The plan also calls for the western entrance gate on 27th Street and its access road, which is rarely used, to be eliminated. The main emergency gate on 27th Street will remain intact.
Some residents on 27th Street aren’t convinced that the new facility won’t negatively impact their properties.
Tom Bensfield, a resident of the block, unsuccessfully asked for the village board for a 90-day delay before making its decision on the zoning variances.
“One thing I don’t believe was answered … was what impact this will have on the residents of 27th Street,” said Bensfield. “There hasn’t been any impact studies done. But yet this continues to just … flow without any answers to those questions.”