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Chenal Village is planned for retired teachers, others.

The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System has long speculated in Little Rock commercial real estate, but with new legislation, the system now plans to become a developer, creating the state's first community for retired teachers on Chenal Valley Drive, near Rahling Road in west Little Rock.

Bill Shirron, executive director of ATRS, says the rough cost of the project is estimated at $40 million-$45 million. Recently, ATRS bought 70.9 acres from Deltic Timber Corp. at a cost of $4.3 million. The project will be financed by bonds issued through the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. The bonds will be paid off, Shirron says, with revenue from the retirement village itself.

Preliminary plans for the project include 23 cottages; an apartment complex for independent living; assisted living quarters; a nursing home; and an Alzheimer's disease care unit. Apartments will be configured for one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans.

Each family in the village would pay an initial entry fee, Shirron says, then pay a monthly fee that entitles them to two meals a day, transportation around the city and recreational activities. The monthly fee, Shirron says, would stay the same, except for consumer-price-index-type increases. Once residents enter the village, they are entitled to enter the nursing home or even the Alzheimer's unit for the same monthly fee, Shirron says.

"We want the entry fee and the monthly fee to cover the repayment of the bonds and operate the facility," Shirron says. "We're not going to try to make a profit off of it."

"It was my idea to start with," he says. "I have a friend who is in a similar retirement village in Memphis. I stayed with them one weekend and I was just intrigued with how nice it was. We've been working on the concept for two years."

A consultant who was involved with the Memphis village chose the Little Rock site, Shirron says, primarily for its proximity to shopping and hospitals, and the fact that water and sewer lines had already been extended to the property.

ATRS will hire an experienced manager of retirement villages to operate the project, Shirron says.

The Cromwell Firm is handling the preliminary design for the complex, which is expected to have 553 units. ATRS probably will start searching for a general contractor within three to six months.

Shirron says he expects the development to include a bank, post office branch, barber shop, and other similar services.

At first, ATRS probably will accept non-teachers at the village in an attempt to fill the available units. After that, Shirron says, retired teachers will be given priority for openings on a first-come-first-served basis.

Shirron believes the population of the village will settle somewhere between 800 and 1,000 residents.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Teacher Retirement System
Author:Haman, John
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Apr 19, 1999
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