Reclaiming the past to build communities for the future

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River Oaks Place Senior Living Lenoir City

Lenoir City, Tennessee

Completed 1995, additions in 1996 and 2006

Dover Signature Properties’ expertise in senior housing began in a very personal way. As general manager Rick Dover searched for an assisted living facility for his ailing grandfather back in the early 1990s, he realized that it was nearly impossible to find a place that was affordable, home-like, and that would put his grandfather’s needs first. And traveling to Florida to care for him was becoming exhausting.

Still, the direction he would take hadn’t yet occurred to him.

“At the time, we were doing affordable housing rehabs and historical restorations,” Dover says, “and we just happened to cross paths with Pat Phillips, who was then the Loudon County planning director. He suggested we look at the old Lenoir City high school building, which was a surplus property for the county that was in poor condition but had enormous potential. They were looking for a proper use for that building and thought we could help.”

Gradually, two parallel lines of thought converged—finding a suitable assisted living facility, and finding a good use for a neglected building. The solution became clear: Dover Signature Properties would simply build Dover’s grandfather a place to live.

River Oaks Place Senior Living was first completed in 1995, Dover’s grandfather moved in, and the project became his company“s new mission. “We started out as an independent living facility, serving one small meal a day,” Dover says. “Gradually, as we learned the business, we moved into the assisted-living side of things. We didn’t intend to have senior living become such a big part of our mission—it happened organically, over time. We learned to do things the right way because we were actually in the process of caring for our own family member.”

Two additions have since been made, and the facility now has 71 units, doubling its original size. Managed by healthcare contractor Senior Solutions, River Oaks Place provides a family-centered environment for its residents, one very different from those run by large national healthcare chains.

“We really get to know our residents’ families and they get to know us,” Dover says. “It’s great—it’s like having hundreds of grandparents. This is one of the advantages of being local; our service is very personal. You can really make a difference in people’s lives, and I know that because I lived it myself. I went through this with my grandfather and it’s wonderful to be able to offer services that help other people through that same experience.”