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Workmen’s Circle seeks $35m for stalled ‘Village’
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Workmen’s Circle seeks $35m for stalled ‘Village’

Three years after it was granted permission to open a state-of-the-art Jewish nursing home in Freehold, the Village for Healthcare and Rehabilitation of Workmen’s Circle is looking for investors to revive the stalled project.

Organizers hope to determine by spring whether they will be able to break ground on the ambitious construction project.

“The Village is looking for $35 million,” said its president, Marshall Goldberg. “We are hoping to know something very strongly in the next three to four months. Fortunately, things are starting to brighten up for us.”

The proposed facility would have space for somewhere between 150 and 180 residents.

A bad economy hurt the sale of the tax-exempt bonds the Village had hoped would finance the building of the home, an independent entity affiliated with the Workmen’s Circle, the century-old support society founded by Jewish immigrants.

“The majority of funds you cannot get through donations. That wasn’t going to happen,” Goldberg told NJ Jewish News in a Jan. 26 phone interview. “We are looking at other investors, possibly a deal to lease. We are looking at all options. There are people who are interested in the project.”

Not typical

Elaborate plans for the Village have been on the drawing boards since the Workmen’s Circle sold the New Jersey Multi-Care Center, its skilled nursing facility in Elizabeth, in 2006 after the city’s Jewish population began migrating to other parts of the state.

After denying the group permission to build on another site in Freehold, the township in 2009 approved its application to construct the home on a 14-acre tract of woodland on Gibson Place, near Routes 537 and 33.

But financing problems prevented the start of construction of what Goldberg called a “very contemporary concept.”

“We are building what we call individual ‘neighborhoods,’” he said. “On each floor there will be four neighborhoods, with no more than 16 private rooms in each neighborhood. Each room has a private bath. When you come out of your room you walk into a very residential-looking living room.”

The idea is to make the Village look less like a medical care facility and more like an upscale residence, even for the contained unit that will house and treat 32 Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients.

“The look is a home,” Goldberg said. “You don’t walk out into a hallway. You walk out into your living room. There will be no nurses walking around with medication cards giving out your pills. They will not be given medication in front of anyone else. That is not necessary.

“It is an expensive thing to build. It would have been easy to build a typical nursing home. We could have built it in 2010, but we did not want to compromise. We could have built something that would be pretty enough to look like a Hampton Inn, but it would still be a nursing home. The economy really put us back, but the board would not compromise on the concept,” he insisted.

Although the Village made no request for funding from the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County this year, in the past it has received $1,000 annual grants.

“It is a very generous donation, considering that we are not operating,” Goldberg said. “They want us to be part of the federation, and it gives us credibility in funding.”

“They are not up and running, but they do have federation support,” said Sheri Tarrab, federation president elect. “It is a very good idea and something I think is necessary in the community.”

Goldberg agreed.

“We have over 400 names on a list. It is called a ‘waiting list,’ but I call it an ‘interest list,’ and that is without advertising,” he told NJJN.

Goldberg, who has been working for the home since the 1970s, when it was based in Elizabeth, estimates it will take between one year and 18 months to finish construction once they are able to break ground.

“The Village has always been an exciting project,” he said. “Now it will be even more exciting, and the most exciting will be the day I admit my first resident.”

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