California Armenian Home breaks ground on $42 million expansion

Fresno Bee – The California Armenian Home broke ground Thursday on a $42 million expansion that will more than double the capacity of the southeast Fresno senior living community.

The expansion will add a three-story structure with 110 independent and assisted living apartments inside, 12 two-bedroom and two-bathroom duplex cottages and a 36-bed memory care building for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Apartments come in studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom.

Board president Lucy Kazanjian Grayson said the most important part of the expansion is that the home will have accommodations for “every phase of senior living.”

If someone lived in the independent or assisted living portion of the home and was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, that person could then be transferred to another part of the home, Grayson said. “You won’t have to get up and move somewhere else.”

If a couple was staying at the home and one spouse became ill, both would be able to remain at the same facility, Grayson said.

A portion of the $42 million is coming from a $4 million donation from the S Barre Paul and Sue Garabedian Paul Trust, which was delivered to the California Armenian Home by Sue Paul’s brother in February. Paul was a former resident of Fresno who moved to Northern California later in life and had relatives and friends that had lived at the home.

The three-story building housing independent and assisted living apartments will have a post office, a fitness center, a deli, a bistro and other shops and services.

“To understand the expansion, you have to understand how the senior living community has changed,” Bacopulos said. “It’s moved to hospitality, not just medical care like it used to be.”

The monthly cost of living at the home starts around $2,200 for independent living studio apartments and $5,000 for a bed in the memory care unit.

“I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” Grayson said, recalling when she first saw the multimillion-dollar check. “My heart was racing – it was a godsend.”

The home had three different groups, including Bank of the West, do market research on the area and determine what the demand for services would be, Grayson said.

“All of our studies have shown it’s needed,” she said, adding that the home built fewer units than the studies suggested were needed to ensure they would be able to fill all the beds.

The home currently has around 140 residents, with 124 in the skilled nursing units and the rest in residential units. After construction is complete in August 2017, the home’s capacity will be around 365 to 400 residents and 23 of the property’s 40 total acres will be developed, spokesman Dennis Bacopulos said.

Although named the California Armenian Home by the 10 men who built the original facility, Grayson said the home is open to anyone of any ethnic background.

“There’s a lot of Armenian culture that would be seen at the home, but we have people from every ethnicity living here,” Grayson said.

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