Make Way for Change

Responding to trends in senior living, Altenheim officials plan to raze the organization’s resource center building and construct additional residential cottages along National Road.

George A. Dakovic, executive director of Altenheim Retirement Home, said the rental residences will be adjacent to Altenheim’s main building, a century-old mansion at 1387 National Road, and to six existing cottages. The cleared site will accommodate two cottages, he said.

As a result of the changes, Altenheim Resource and Referral Services will move into Altenheim’s main building, which houses the agency’s offices and serves as a residence for older women.

The closing of the 18-year-old building at 1359 National Road will displace Faith in Action Caregivers Inc., which has rented office space since the center’s opening in 1995, and a newer tenant, Catchpoint Creative. The tenants have been given six months to move.

After the center is vacated, a demolition company will salvage wooden beams, doors and the metal roof before razing the structure, Dakovic said.

The new residential cottages, to be set back from National Road, each will have 1,350 to 1,400 square feet of living space and two-car garages, Dakovic said. The floor plan will be similar to the existing cottages. The three original, contemporary cottages built in 2008 have 1,200 to 1,300 square feet of living space; three traditional-style cottages built in 2012 have 1,600 square feet of living space. The additional houses probably will be built in the more traditional design, he said.

The cottage concept is in demand with the area’s older population. Pointing to the cottages that opened last fall, he said, the cottages “were built with the people waiting to get in … There is a waiting list for the next two or three. They are extremely popular.”

While housing options have expanded since Altenheim Retirement Home’s inception in 1891, the organization’s mission to provide independent living for seniors remains unchanged. “We’ve always been about housing,” Dakovic said.

Currently, there are six residents in Altenheim’s main house. The building’s second floor contains 15 single rooms with private baths.

“There’s still a small market for that, but you can’t make a living on that,” the director said.

Altenheim moved into the former John Schenk mansion in 1950. The house, finished in 1922, is so well-built that “it would be very expensive” to try to convert single rooms into suites.

“The cost would outweigh the benefits,” Dakovic said. “It’s a solid building. It will always be here.”

Ann Koegler, coordinator of Altenheim Resource and Referral Services, said the program’s office and library of reference books and DVDs will be moved to the main building. She is optimistic that some of the current programs can be offered there, while bigger programs may have to be conducted off site.

Koegler said, “I think we will be able to continue (services) with minimal disruption.”

Jeanette L. Wojcik, executive director of Faith in Action Caregivers, said, “For 18 years, the Altenheim Retirement Community has supported the mission of Faith in Action Caregivers by housing the program in the resource and referral center. Their mission to provide resources to the elderly and their caregivers has blended so well with Faith in Action’s mission … We have found a supportive and collaborative partner in caring for our elderly neighbors. We have been blessed to be located at the resource center.”

Faith in Action officials are exploring options for office space in the community and are interested in talking with congregations or others who have space available. For specific details about the needs of the organization, email Wojcik at or call 304-243-5420.