By Mary O’KEEFE
New Urban West has decided not to purchase the Twelve Oaks assisted living facility as of Sept. 11.
The company was in the process of doing its due diligence when it decided to back away from the purchase. The decision, according to Ryan Bean, director of Acquisitions and Entitlements for New Urban West Inc., was due to the “seller’s terms not being appropriate for the job.”
“I think when we entered into our agreement there were some assumptions that changed,” Bean said. He added that ending the purchase process was not for any “political or physical issue.”
The political issue Bean referred to was the overwhelming negative response from the community and local officials on the sale and closing of the facility that 50 seniors call/called their home.
When the news of the closure became public, neighbors and those who had families in Twelve Oaks immediately began sending emails, to other community members initially and then to government officials.
Assemblymember Mike Gatto wrote a letter that was published in the CV Weekly last Thursday urging the California attorney general to investigate the sale and the closure of the facility. Glendale City Council members were emailed and urged to look not only into the shuttering of the facility and the legalities of selling to a developer rather than another senior care operator, but to guard against any homes or complexes that may take over the Twelve Oaks property.
There are several oak trees that pepper the property, and oak trees are protected in Glendale as well as throughout Los Angeles County, perhaps adding another problem to the sale.
With New Urban West Inc. leaving the table, the be.Group is tasked with looking for another buyer.
The be.Group started out over 10 years ago managing the property for then-owners National Charity League. After managing for a couple of years, the group purchased the property. At the time of the purchase, the group was known as Southern California Presbyterian Homes. The name was changed to be.Group in 2011.
But the history of Twelve Oaks is longer, having served community seniors for about 80 years. The problem now, said Dan Hutson, VP of Communications and Marketing for be.Group, is the Twelve Oaks style of assisted living is a victim of a changing elderly population.
“If you see the layout of the campus, it is not a campus designed for assisted living,” said Hutson in an earlier interview with CVW.
In the past, seniors who moved to a facility like Twelve Oaks, which has cabin-like buildings surrounded by gardens and trees, were their late 60s and early 70s on average. Now seniors are closer in age to late 80s and early 90s when moving in and they often need more medical support.
The be.Group owns and operates several nursing homes/assisted living facilities throughout Southern California. To bring the Twelve Oaks campus up to the “standards” of the be.Group would be extremely cost prohibitive, Hutson said.
So though the sale to New Urban West has been canceled, that does not mean the closing and selling of Twelve Oaks will be stopped.
“We are still closing the facility,” Hutson confirmed on Thursday. “The [New Urban West decision] doesn’t change the fact that [Twelve Oaks] is functionally obsolete.”
Hutson is well aware of the community’s opposition to the sale and concern for its residents. Deciding to close the facility was not something that the company took lightly, he said.
The residents have been moving out of Twelve Oaks and the be.Group is helping to pay for their relocation.
“And we are holding them at the [Twelve Oaks] rate if they go to another one of our facilities,” he said.
The Twelve Oaks rate is retained even if the other facility is more expensive.
Beyond the business side of the closing are the Twelve Oaks residents and the community’s affection for the long time facility. The community is communicating through Facebook, emails and phone calls. But those who are most affected are the Twelve Oaks residents and staff. In interviews with residents, some do understand the business of closing but are having a difficult time with the dismantling of those they consider their family.
The be.Group will continue its search for a new buyer/developer. Hutson said that whoever it is will have to follow all the strict ordinances set by the city of Glendale including the oak tree ordinance.