Forest near Woodridge neighborhood targeted for retirement home changing hands

Thursday, November 12, 2009 | 12:16 p.m. CST; updated 11:30 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 14, 2011


The new owners of 11 acres east of Portland Street on Berrywood Drive, known as Berrywood Forest, are planning a retirement facility tailored to retired university and college educators. As the company works to purchase the property, Woodridge residents are putting their heads together in hopes of persuading the firm to relocate and save what neighbors call their "little forest."

Previous ownership

  • An Oklahoma-based company, SOCH LC, originally purchased the land.
  • A 275,300-square-foot retirement home called Silver Oak Senior Living Center, just north of Woodridge Park, was to be built on 11 acres of land.
  • July 2008 - Columbia City Council ruled the Woodridge neighborhood and SOCH LC should decide whether an easement on 2.7 acres should be public or private. This issue remains unresolved.
  • No progress was made after this point.

New ownership

  • A St. Charles firm, Future Focus Community, is in the process of purchasing the land from the previous owner.
  • According to the company Web site, the retirement facility is for "college and university alumni, faculty and staff."

Future Focus Hope

  • Vice president Dave Collins said Columbia appealed to the company because it is a college town.
  • Collins said the firm would like to work with MU to get the residents of the facility involved in activities.
  • Philosophy: "To provide a full spectrum of services to seniors," Collins said.

Neighborhood reaction

Woodridge Neighborhood Association Chairman Allen Hahn said he spoke recently with Collins.

He brought up the idea of the company looking for alternative property on which to build. The vice president said his firm would be willing to entertain the idea, Hahn said, but will continue pursuing the land.

Hahn plans to arrange a meeting with the neighborhood to talk about:

  • The status of the project
  • Ways to raise money to buy the land and turn it into a trust

Woodridge resident Aurelle Garnett created a Web site as a dedication to saving the forest when SOCH LC first owned the property. The page provides the names and pictures of 191 plants as well as various waterways and terrains.



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