Buyer plans Alzheimer's facility at former nursing home in Cape Elizabeth

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The owner of several assisted-living facilities in central Maine purchased the former Viking nursing home at auction Wednesday.

Lon Walters’ bid of $825,000 was accepted, although the five-acre property on Scott Dyer Road is assessed by the town at $3.4 million.

Walters said he plans to build a 36-bed facility for people with Alzheimer’s disease, and may include another assisted-living area for seniors who have the ability to live more independently.

Walters’ Woodlands Assisted Living of Waterville operates assisted-living facilities in Hallowell, Waterville, Brewer and Rockland, and an independent retirement apartment complex. Four of the six homes are Alzheimer’s facilities.

“It is a terrible disease and it is everywhere,” Walters said. “I feel good about what I do. I know I run a business, but I am also doing something for those with the disease and for their families.”

Walters said 25 to 30 employees would be needed to run a 36-bed Alzheimer’s facility in Cape Elizabeth.

He said the Viking facility, which has been empty for about four years, is adaptable, but a lot of repairs are necessary.

“It will certainly cost a few million dollars to turn this around,” Walters said. “Somewhere in the $4 million to $6 million range.”

Within the next few weeks, Walters said decisions will be made about the project, and he will start working with the town for permits.

“If we had all our approvals here in Cape Elizabeth today, we could open the facility in less than a year,” he said. “There is a lot to accomplish in that time, but we know what we are doing.”

Walters said he does not anticipate any major hurdles.

“It is not as if we are going from a single-family house to a convenience store,” he said. “We will make it better than what it was, but it will be similar.”

The facility has been empty since 2005, and was purchased in 2006 by the Sunwest Management Co. of Oregon. Development plans were approved by the Cape Elizabeth Planning Board in 2007 to renovate the facility, but the company never followed through with the plans and the property was foreclosed by the mortgage holder, Gardiner-based Savings Bank of Maine (formerly Gardiner Savings). Sunwest also owed about $100,000 in unpaid taxes.

The oldest section of the facility was built in 1979, and has 32 units, kitchens, laundry facilities and administrative offices. A newer section was built in 1994 that includes two floors with 60 units, elevators, a dining room, lounge and community room.

“I feel good and comfortable about being here,” Walters said. “I like the neighborhood, the area – it’s a good place to be.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or