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A Concord company has proposed building a $30-plus million senior assisted-living facility along Old Redwood Highway in Larkfield.

Anticipating more growth in the local senior population, Carlton Senior Living has applied to Sonoma County to build a 142-unit complex next door to the Larkfield Shopping Center, about a block north of Mark West Springs Road.

The three-story facility would sit on 3.68 acres of land and would include units for independent living, assisted living and memory care.

“We saw that there was a real need in this particular county,” Carlton President David Coluzzi said Tuesday.

He noted that the county’s existing senior facilities have relatively high occupancy rates. And his company’s review of data from select county neighborhoods showed the number of households with members aged 75 or older is expected to grow by roughly 4 percent over the next three years.

County planners this week sent a notification letter to the neighbors of the proposed site at 4372 Old Redwood Highway.

Planners also have started a review of the application submitted on Sept. 21 by Carlton, which owns 11 similar facilities in Northern California. That review will determine what, if any, environmental studies are required and what hearings must take place for the project.

County Supervisor James Gore, who represents Larkfield, plans to meet today with a representative from Carlton, according to the supervisor’s office.

The proposal comes at a time when local senior housing facilities, like the larger conventional rental market, report relatively high occupancy rates and rents.

The county currently has about 1,500 units at senior facilities that provide independent living, assisted care and memory care services, according to the nonprofit National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, a nonprofit that tracks such data.

The facilities, which have at least 25 units each, were on average 93.3 percent occupied in the year’s second quarter, compared to an occupancy rate of 89.7 percent for the 31 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

For the same period, the average monthly rent at the county facilities was $4,158, compared to $3,595 for the largest metro areas. The rents may include some fees for assisted living, such as helping residents bathe or get dressed, but not the costs of memory care.

Marrianne McBride, president and CEO at the Sonoma County Council on Aging, acknowledged the growth in the county’s senior population, but said the agency is still able to find space in assisted living facilities for those who can pay the price.

However, she said, “there is an extreme shortage of beds” at such facilities for those living on low incomes.

“At this point we have to send people out of the county,” said McBride.

She voiced hope that Carlton would “allocate a certain number of rooms for the low income.”

Coluzzi said the rental rates for the proposed facility likely would start at about $3,500 a month.

Carlton doesn’t commit to a certain percentage, he said, but for “our last few projects, we provided affordable housing.”

The project plan is “low impact,” Coluzzi said, “but it generates a lot of employment and it really helps the economy.”

Carlton’s facilities “don’t generate a lot of traffic,” he said, and typically employ at least 100 workers.

If the county approves the facility, Coluzzi said he wants to open it in the latter part of 2018.

Carlton, which is a privately held company, has facilities in Concord, San Jose, Pleasant Hill, Fremont, San Leandro, Elk Grove, Sacramento and Davis.

Along with short-term growth, Coluzzi said, Carlton is also looking ahead to the expected market in the coming decades as more baby boomers grow old.

“It’s a tidal wave,” he said. “So we’re also anticipating the demand.”

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit

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