Joe Haney

Epworth Villa VP of Advancement Joe Haney is the Stillwater representative for The Ranch.

A project that began as the dream of a small group of Oklahoma State University retirees will finally bear fruit when The Ranch retirement community breaks ground this summer.

It will be Stillwater’s only continuous care retirement community.

“Some  OSU Emeriti have been working on this project for over 20 years,” Epworth Living Vice President of Advancement Joe Haney said. “It gives them an option to move into a place where they can stay in their hometown for the rest of their lives.”

Haney said the entire project has to be built at once because residents have to be able to move from independent living to assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing from the first day.

The developers expect to be moving dirt by July 1, Haney said.

The Ranch approached Payne County in December about serving as a pass-through entity for $12 million in short-term financing bonds to pay back some original investors and get the project through to the building phase but those loans weren’t needed because sales picked up and became better than expected.

The Ranch has commitments for 96 of its 137 units and is ready to get permanent financing and start building, Haney said.

By agreeing to serve as a pass-through, Payne County allows The Ranch, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, to sell the bonds as tax-free investments and makes them more attractive to investors.

The county won’t be liable for repaying any of the debt and will be paid $50,000 at closing and $10,000 annually until the bonds are repaid, bond counsel Lynne Driver said.

The maximum amount The Ranch can borrow under its agreement with the county is $120 million, which includes contingency funds. Up to $70 million of that will be issued in a series that matures in 30-35 years while the remainder will have shorter terms.

The project foundered several times when partnerships failed and the city of Stillwater wasn’t able to provide water service at its original site on Range Road.

The Ranch was eventually moved to 55 acres in northeastern Stillwater previously owned by former Congressman Wes Watkins.

Watkins and his wife Lou are among those committed to living at The Ranch.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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