Stephen’s Place could break ground in June | The Columbian


By Cami Joner

What: A residential community for independent adults with developmental disabilities.

Where: 501 S.E. Ellsworth Road, Vancouver.

When: June ground-breaking for a 2013 opening.

Developer: The Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation was founded to support two causes: Supported housing and socialization for developmentally disabled adults and clinical cancer research.

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A Vancouver foundation plans to build a $10 million assisted-living complex in Vancouver for independent adults with developmental disabilities, which it says will serve adults from all over the Portland-Vancouver area.

Called Stephen’s Place, the two-story building could be under construction in June and is expected to open in 2013 with 45 apartments. Amenities will include a common eating area, classroom and computer lounge, activity room, gardening area, a gymnasium and walking paths throughout the 3-acre site southwest of the Mill Plain Boulevard and Interstate 205 exit.

Developers wanted the complex to offer plenty of room for exercise, said Lynne Siegel, executive director of the Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation, the Vancouver nonprofit group that is financing the project.

“This will be a very active, lively community,” she said.

The Kuni Foundation was started by Wayne Kuni, a Portland auto dealer who died in 2006 and left his financial assets to launch the $28.5 million nonprofit. It is now the charitable arm of Kuni Automotive, a holding company that owns 14 auto dealerships in four states, including Lexus of Portland and Kuni BMW in Beaverton.

The foundation has two missions: to house adults with developmental disabilities and to support cancer research, Siegel said. Stephen’s Place is named after a member of the Kuni family who died at the age of 25, she added.

“He was developmentally delayed,” Siegel said of Stephen Kuni. “He led a very active, but short life.”

The Kuni Foundation expects to hire a separate company to manage Stephen’s Place, which Siegel estimated would attract residents from through out the region.

“We think it’s going to be the only development of its kind,” she said.

The foundation spent more than two years assessing the local need for such a facility.

“We concluded that, yes indeed, there is a very strong need for folks in our community because adults with developmental disabilities are growing older and living longer than in the past,” Siegel said.

Similar to assisted living, residents and their families will pay a monthly fee for apartments, meals and care at Stephen’s Place.

But the foundation hopes to establish a charitable program to help defray costs for residents, and it has already applied for grant funding, Siegel said.

Siegel believes developing the project under the arm of a charitable foundation will help to keep costs down for residents. She could not estimate the number of employees expected to work at the complex. Jobs would be similar to positions at assisted-living facilities.

“I don’t think we know the number yet,” Siegel said.

Editor’s note: This story has been modified to reflect a correction. Kuni Automotive operates 14 dealerships in four states.

Original article can be found here.