Oak Hammock at the University of Florida is growing, and it’s good news for Gainesville.
The community broke ground on an expansion and renovation of the center’s Health Pavilion on Jan. 6, kicking off an 18-month project that includes assisted living expansion, skilled nursing expansion, enlarged dining and a new courtyard. The skilled nursing expansion will add 31 private units and enlarge amenities and service areas – adding 14,865 square feet of living space. In addition, an assisted living expansion will grow the current space by 5,800 square feet and create nine new residences, along with enlarging the dining area and creating a new courtyard.
After the first phase of expansion, residents will be moved to the new facilities while the 10-year-old current facilities are updated and improved. New technology, including a new emergency call system and kiosks for accessing electronic medical records, will be installed throughout the building.
Oak Hammock is a Life Fulfilling Community located on 136 acres in downtown Gainesville. To its residence it offers the options of a maintenance-free lifestyle, assisted living, memory care and rehabilitation, as well as apartment residences, multiple dining venues, a theater, art studio and Fitness Center.
The $10.2 million, multi-phase project will create 33 new jobs at Oak Hammock.
Since opening in 2004, Oak Hammock has seen remarkable growth, which Jon Corbin feels is largely due to Gainesville’s desirability as a location.
“With Shands nearby, there is world-class healthcare in the area,” said Corbin, Executive Vice President of Praxeis, the community’s management and development company. “There’s also the attractiveness of coming back to a college town with all it has to offer – culture, arts and the amenities that the university brings.
“The whole aspect of lifelong learning and being able to continue to grow in that regard is a big attraction for the retiree market,” Corbin said. “There are a lot of aspects that come into play that make Gainesville an appealing place for someone to retire.”
For the most part, the project has had a smooth start-up with plenty of neighborhood support. “It’s a long processes that’s creating a fair number of construction jobs in the immediate present, and 33 Oak Hammock jobs upon completion,” said Florida native Corbin, who has worked for Praexis and its predecessors for 24 years. Other than higher than anticipated construction costs, (leveed by the recent building boom around Gainesville) the process has thus far gone as-planned.
Of course, the long-term impact of Oak Hammock’s expansion stretches far beyond the community’s walls. “Historically, Oak
Hammock has attracted about one third of its members from the Gainesville area,” Corbin said, “and two-thirds from other places around the county.” An influx of retirees means a broader customer base for local businesses and attractions, and in time could offer a boost to the overall market.
New construction is expected to be completed by November 2015, with renovations completed by June 2016.