Camas event venue Fairgate Inn to become assisted-living facility

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

It's not uncommon for a business to pass from one generation to another.

But owners of the Fairgate Inn are putting a new twist on the common theme by passing the Camas lodging and wedding venue down to the next generation for a different use. Husband-and-wife owners Jack and Chris Foyt, who built the popular Prune Hill mansion venue in 2000, are handing over use of the structure to their daughter, Jennifer Coriell, 32, at the end of December. Coriell will then rename and reopen the space as a licensed assisted-living facility called Fairgate Estate in early 2014.

Then the beloved Federalist-style structure and its English-style gardens at 2213 N.W. 23rd Ave. will exchange purposes, going from a place of blissful beginnings to a home for those approaching life's closing moments.

"It gives us a real sense of satisfaction that what we built here can help take care of people," said Chris Foyt, 65, who plans to retire. Her husband is already retired from Costco, where he worked opening several stores and then worked as a general manager.

It was Coriell who proposed transforming the Fairgate Inn, an event venue, into Fairgate Estate, an assisted-living community. She expects the private facility to generate enough income to cover its operations and allow her parents to retire.

"I had a whole marketing strategy put together," said Coriell, who will oversee the facility's staff of about 10 or 12 people, initially, and its operations.

Fairgate Estate will open with 10 rooms, which have been converted from bed-and-breakfast suites into assisted-living units with kitchenettes. A second phase will include five additional rooms for enhanced care, set to come online in mid-2014, Coriell said.

"These are typically individuals with greater needs," she said. "They may be bedridden or maybe they can't feed themselves and need more one-on-one attention."

'A need in our community'

Coriell expects living costs will start at around $5,000 per month, with additional charges for individual care plans. Though the home will be a bit more expensive than most higher-end assisted-living facilities in Clark County, Coriell is counting on a high staff-to-occupant ratio and extra services to attract residents and the guardians who make their decisions.

"I really believe there's a need in our community for something different," she said.

Coriell said she has spent the past several months working with contractors to update the building for its new use, which requires it to pass rigourous codes and standards set by the Washington State Department of Health.

Coriell's background includes a bachelor of arts degree in business management, earned through online coursework at the American Intercontinental University. She also has worked as a full-time certified nursing assistant with PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, formerly Southwest Washington Medical Center.

She expects to pay higher hourly wages to the CNAs she will hire to staff Fairgate Estates. In return, she hopes to recruit top-notch caregivers who typically do the bulk of the work in an assisted-living setting.

She plans to operate the facility like a home setting in which caregivers take their meals with residents.

Coriell said the size of the actual studio-sized units at Fairgate Estates will be smaller than the apartment-sized units in many area complexes. However, the residents will have access to most of the common areas within the 15,000-square-foot house, includ

ing its well-appointed living room, library and dining room, as well as its lower-level spa area and television room.

"We don't think it's about the size of your apartment, it's about the community," she said.

Chris Foyt said she agrees wholeheartedly. She and her husband plan to continue living in separate quarters on the property.

"I'm looking forward to knowing the people who will live there, and to meeting their families," Foyt said.

She has spent 13.5 years operating and overseeing all aspects of the Fairgate Inn and its large ballroom. The mansion with its columned front porch, said to resemble the White House, has been extremely popular among trend-setting brides and often hosts up to three weddings per weekend during the warmer months of the year, Foyt said.

But she has grown tired of the work overseeing cleanup of the Fairgate Inn's grounds and household before each wedding, in addition to ordering table linens and settings and overseeing the preparation of special menus for each couple.

Differences in care

She began to think about her daughter Coriell's proposal more seriously after Foyt's 91-year-old mother-in-law required assisted care after an accident. Foyt observed the differences in care her mother-in-law received in different facilities and came to believe the elderly family member recovered much faster in an environment where staff and residents interacted with one another.

"We want the rooms here to be beautiful for them, of course," Foyt said. "But we want to get them out of their rooms so they can do better."

She and her husband considered and even attempted to sell the Fairgate Inn at one point, but were disappointed by the tepid response from potential buyers who appeared overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in running the venue.

"Then we came up with this (assisted living) plan and the more we got into it, the more our hearts said, 'This is what we want to do,'" Foyt said.