Genesis Village nears completionWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior housing project Genesis Village is taking shape and Jim Oedy couldn’t be more pleased.
Oedy and business partner Dr. Nathan Hill recently purchased the former South Toledo hotel with plans to turn it into housing for seniors 55 and older.
More than $9 million later, that dream will become soon become a reality as the first residents are on track to move in by mid-July, Oedy said.
“We’ve gotten a tremendous response,” Oedy said.
Genesis Village, 2429 S. Reynolds Road at Heatherdowns Boulevard, is near the site of the former Southwyck Mall. The complex will have 138 efficiency, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with a total capacity of 198 residents.
What will set it apart from other living communities is its all-inclusive leases, which, for $1,800 to $3,100 per month, will include three meals a day, Internet, utilities, laundry and transportation to doctors’ appointments and shopping, Oedy said. Residents will be responsible for their own phone service. Pets are welcome for an additional fee.
Another aspect that sets Genesis Village apart is that all leases are month-to-month, Oedy said.
“I like the idea that every month we have to earn our spurs so to speak,” Oedy said. “It’s a great liberator for residents who are thinking about moving in. They know if this doesn’t work out they can just walk away and that’s what it should be.”
Apartments will include kitchenettes with refrigerator, cable TV and Internet access. Amenities include an indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, fitness center, laundry rooms, beauty salon, library, media center with theater-size screen, atrium with a fireplace lounge, game room, chapel, gift shop, meeting rooms and a 5,000-square-foot kitchen. All the food will be made from scratch every day using produce from a planned organic vegetable garden. The 10-acre campus includes a wooded trail for walking or bicycling.
In all, residents will have about 30,000 square feet of common space to utilize, compared to typical senior housing facilities, which have about 3,000 square feet of common space, Oedy said.
“All this stuff is really just unheard of, but it affects the quality of life a great deal,” Oedy said. “I’ve been in all these places and I see the same thing everyplace you go. Once you get out of the apartment area, there’s not much common space.
“There’s nobody around here that’s done anything like this,” Oedy said. “You have to go into upper Michigan or New Jersey. There’s a number around the country and they’ve all been extremely successful.”
Genesis Village also plans to partner with local organizations to host senior events, health fairs, seminars and more on site, Oedy said. Heroes in Action, a local veteran’s support group, occupied donated space in the building.
Genesis Village was founded on Christian values, but all are welcome, Oedy said.
“We will have people have different faiths and people of no faith at all,” Oedy said. “We’re just using our Christian principles to guide how to treat everybody.”
Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins, who grew up in South Toledo and still lives there, said he hopes Genesis Village can help spark a regeneration for the area.
“That whole Reynolds Road corridor has been challenged for the past five years, since Southwyck Mall finally closed their doors,” Collins said. “The area has realistically been nonperforming from a commercial standpoint. I firmly believe that Southwyck is the most important economic development consideration for the entire city of Toledo. If Southwyck doesn’t advance from its dormancy we will lose the most valuable neighborhoods in our city.
“When you look at the potential, Southwyck is probably the one singular location in Toledo, Ohio, that has great potential,” Collins said. “It’s just capturing someone with the entrepreneurial attitude to take advantage of it.
I see this Genesis Village coming in as what I hope to find the tipping point of bringing that Reynolds Road corridor back to its potential,” Collins said.
During a June 5 conference call, Collins, Deputy Mayor for External Affairs and Economic Development Paul Syring and representatives of Kansas City-based MD Properties, principal owners of Southwyck, discussed Southwyck Mall.
“The nature of the discussion cannot be disclosed at this time,” Collins said. “However, I do feel progress has been made and look forward to future discussion with the owners of Southwyck to bring this property in to a development worthy of its location.”
MD Management declined to comment.
Oedy said he also views the opening of Genesis Village as the start of the area’s regeneration.
“Genesis Village has created a whole new buzz,” Oedy said. “Six new businesses have moved in since it became clear this was happening and we’re had people calling us to say they’re contemplating moving to Southwyck. It’s just a great win-win-win situation. I don’t think I’m overstating this. This is a revival we’re hoping to see out here.”
Collins said he is cautiously optimistic.
“There’s been some small businesses. It’s experienced some new commercial activity, but to say it’s jettisoned would not be an accurate statement,” Collins said. “The only way the corridor is going to be saved is by the positive influx of small businesses and anchors and possibly mixed use of the Southwyck property.
“I see this Genesis Village coming in as what I hope to find the tipping point of bringing that Reynolds Road corridor back to its potential,” Collins said.
Oedy said he understands the reluctance of anyone to take on a 170,000-square-foot building — and in fact, he had his own reservations.
“I didn’t start out to do it,” Oedy said and laughed.
He was originally brought in as a consultant by First Church of God, which owned the property and was interested in turning it into senior housing. However, the church lacked the financial backing to make it happen. That’s when Oedy and HIll stepped in and bought it themselves.
“A lot of people talked about doing it, but were scared or couldn’t get financing for it,” Oedy said. “When you’re over 60, you’re not really looking for something to do. But I prayed a lot about it, looked at all the numbers and the great enthusiasm for it and realized we have a winner.”
Oedy said it was a spiritual decision and he felt led by God.
“Over the years, I’ve had eight businesses and five nonprofits and all had one thing in common: I knew God called me to do it. It may not make a lot of sense. I remember when I started YES-FM, I had a lot of reservations, but at the end of the day, if you are called to do it, you’ve got to do it,” Oedy said.
“If we hadn’t done this about three years ago, it would be an ugly parking lot right now. It would have been just terrible,” Oedy said. “They put $43 million into this property in the mid-’80s and it was within a few months of going down the tubes. That would have been terrible and another huge eyesore for Southwyck.”
Passion for senior care
Oedy entered the field of senior care somewhat by accident. In 1980, he visited Fremont’s Parkview Care Center to perform with his band of more than 30 years, Side by Side. The owner was so impressed with Oedy’s ability to connect with seniors he offered to sell him the business.
“I was just stunned. He said he’d been looking for someone to come along who would care about residents more than the bottom line,” Oedy said.
At the time, Oedy was working in marketing, and had just earned a substantial raise.
“It was very difficult to walk away from that job,” Oedy said. “That is when I knew I was called to do it because nobody in their right mind would say, ‘No thanks’ [to that kind of raise].
“But [my wife] said, ‘The happiest you’ve been in your life is when you were working with seniors and anyone who loves working with seniors so much should probably be doing it.’”
The decision was “one of the best we ever made,” said Oedy, who went on to remodel Parkview and build Parkside Manor Assisted Living and Bethany Place Retirement Center. He sold all three Fremont properties in the 1990s. Oedy said his passion for working with seniors stems from his respect of “The Greatest Generation.”
“I grew to appreciate the great price my dad and a lot of other veterans paid in World War II and what they have been doing since then,” Oedy said. “They made sacrifices we can’t even imagine, not only in World War II, but coming back home and turning this country into what it is by their bootstraps. There’s something about that generation I find inspiring.”
His business partner Hill is a pain management specialist and many of his patients are seniors, Oedy said.
“We both have this passion to serve the community and we’re both getting a chance to do something we really love to do and that’s care for seniors,” Oedy said. “It’s just been a wonderful ride.”