Retirement community sees a financial rebound
The Glebe, a Botetourt County retirement community, has faced many obstacles in the past 11 years.
It was scheduled to open in 2003, but a 100-year flood caused 18 months of construction delays. Potential residents that couldn’t wait moved elsewhere.
“We were about 60 percent occupancy when we opened in 2005,” says Peter Robinson, vice president of marketing and public relations for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly known as Virginia Baptist Homes. The Glebe is one of four LifeSpire continuing-care communities in Virginia.
The next hurdle was a court case. Botetourt sued Virginia Baptist Homes to collect property taxes on The Glebe. “They questioned if The Glebe was truly a nonprofit,” says Robinson. “That was a huge setback. We were painted as not paying our fair share of taxes. That turned a lot of people off from considering The Glebe.”
In 2008, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in favor of The Glebe, but the case was costly. Adding to the community’s financial stress, the housing market plummeted that year, preventing many potential residents from selling their homes.
In 2010 The Glebe filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The move affected The Glebe’s ability to collect certain fees. Under its business model, the community charges residents entrance fees along with monthly service fees. During the bankruptcy process, residents still were allowed to move in and pay monthly fees. “We just couldn’t take entrance fees,” Robinson says.
During the next two years, 48 households moved into the community. When The Glebe emerged from bankruptcy in 2012, the stay on entrance fees was lifted.
“We were expecting that 25 percent of that group of 48 might leave when they had to pay the entrance fee,” Robinson says. “But that didn’t happen.”
He attributes their loyalty to the community’s quality of life. “We make sure we are meeting our residents’ expectations. Their satisfaction is one of the biggest things for us,” Robinson says.
The community is about 94 percent occupied with 151 of 153 apartments sold and/or occupied. “The finances of The Glebe are very strong now,” Robinson says.