Warsaw’s Harbor Village project finds strength in partners

May 11, 2013

An ambitious partnership is taking shape in Warsaw and proponents hope the planned Harbor Village project will be a boon to Benton County residents as well as the local economy.

The $7.9 million project, more than a decade in the making, is a coordinated effort between Katy Trail Community Health, Pathways Community Health, Friends of the Warsaw Senior Center, and Care Connection for Aging Services that will see a 23,000-square-foot community health and wellness center constructed on North Dam Access Road that will act as a “one-stop shop” for physical and mental health needs, said Chris Stewart, executive director for Katy Trail.

“Our purpose is to deliver services to folks in Benton County in a seamless way,” Stewart said. “Harbor Village is the building where we will all be co-located in one place.”

The facility will house primary health and dental services offered by Katy Trail, as well as mental health services provided by Pathways and additional services for seniors through Care Connection. With construction expected to be completed in September, Stewart expects the facility will open in October, a move that will double service capacity for Katy Trail as well as adding capacity for Pathways and the senior center.

However, she said, the long-term affect on Warsaw and Benton County is expected to go well beyond basic health and wellness services and could serve as “an anchor for future development.”

“Besides us ensuring people have a one-stop shop, it also builds incredible economic capacity for that community,” Stewart said, noting that the site will also include a fitness area, a computer lab with Internet access, a cafe-style dining area, meeting rooms and a 200-person public-use banquet room.

The $7.9 million project involved a wide range of public and private funding sources, including “more than $2.4 million of New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) equity raised in partnership with Third National Bank and the Community Health Center Capital Fund.”

“We view it as a community center, a wellness center where a variety of activities can take place and we can build upon them,” Stewart said. “But we also see it as sort of the foundation for leveraging other kinds of community development.”

Stewart said drawing in additional health services, potential senior housing developments and other related business opportunities could have a significant impact on the Warsaw and Benton County economy.

That is also a major selling point for Irv Jensen, executive director of Benton County Development Corporation.

With plans to tie Harbor Village into the city’s extensive trail system, Jensen said Harbor Village is the next in a number of steps the community has taken over the last decade to try to better serve the needs of the community’s growing population and popularity as a destination for retired seniors.

“We know this will dramatically improve senior services and provide residents with much greater access to physical and behavioral health than they have ever had before. It has generated a lot of excitement. Our population is very much aware that this is a need we have — we have an older population and we have a poorer population and Harbor Village will directly address those two segments,” Jensen said.

In fact, he said, the project is already making its mark, with 50 construction jobs created through the ongoing building phase.

“Plus, it is estimated that when it is fully operational it will bring 25 new jobs in our area. For Benton County that is a big deal. These are good jobs and consistent jobs plus it has the potential to attract related industries and services,” Jensen said.

While senior services will play a big part in Harbor Village, Jensen and Stewart stressed that medical, dental and mental health services will be open to all ages, along with the site’s other amenities.

“The community benefits in lots of different ways,” Jensen said. “Given its location and a gorgeous view, we are looking forward to it to be another asset to improve the quality of life down here.”