Lenoir Woods

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COLUMBIA - Lenoir Woods Retirement Community broke ground on a $50 million expansion Tuesday. Crews expect the expansion to bring 500 construction jobs to Columbia throughout the next three to five years.

Lutheran Senior Services bought the community in 2005, from the National Benevolent Association after it declared bankruptcy. Lutheran Senior Services credits the recovery to a shift to more personalized and individual care.

"We're taking an old institutional model, and making it as close to home as you can," said Kent Kirkwood, executive director at Lutheran Senior Services.

Mayor Bob McDavid praised Lenoir Woods' efforts to serve the elderly community and bring more jobs and revenue to Columbia.

"It's great to see construction that employees people, and it's great to see more residents live here," said McDavid.

The current facilities place the care center and housing on opposite sides of the 110 acre campus. Spouses are separated if one is in need of constant medical attention.

Joseph Beckman, a resident at Lenoir Woods, drives a golf cart across campus every day to visit his wife with Alzheimer's. Once expansion is complete, couples like the Beckmans will live under one roof.

 The teams expect to complete the first phase of the project by next summer.