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Victorian Manor

The Manor House, once a troubled asset, now spiffed up with expansion

By Howard B. Owens

It's a good thing Gordon Davis likes Batavia. He's been spending a lot of time here the past several months.

Davis, a Portland, Oregon, resident, is the managing partner of The Manor House. Since the beginning of the year, the retired urban planner has had little time for the sculpture he loves. He's been too busy rescuing the former Victorian Manor from the bankruptcy of Sunwest, paying off past-due bills to contractors for nearly $2 million and overseeing the completion of two new residential wings at a total cost of more than $4 million.

AUDIO: Listen to Davis tell the story of his investment in Victorian Manor (mp3).

If you get a chance to walk with Davis around the new wings -- which added 50 apartments --  you can tell Gordon is clearly proud of what The Manor House has become. The once troubled asset is now a jewel in his eyes, and Davis clearly believes it's among the best facilities of its kind.

Davis and his fellow partners -- which includes his wife as well as eight other people spread around the country -- were in danger of losing all of the money they put into the Victorian Manor after Sunwest imploded. For Davis, stepping in with a plan to rescue that investment wasn't just a financially defensive move -- he believes in The Manor House and he believes in Batavia.

"My wife and I saw this (when Sunwest first presented the investment opportunity) and we thought it was a real solid property in a really good area," Davis said. "We didn't know a lot about the area, but it felt like it was a good area. We did enough of our own due diligence to think this is a good market and the property really looked excellent."

When Davis looks at the financial viability of his investment, he notes that not only is there an aging population in Genesee County (most, but not all, Manor House residents are from Genesee County), it's centrally located between Rochester and Buffalo. Also, the growing social-services industry in Batavia provides a lot of compatible opportunities.

"This is really the center for those kinds of support services," Davis said. "There are different kinds of services (from the Veteran's Home to the new Depaul facility) and the different kind of support services is really fundamentally good for Batavia. It not only brings in those folks (the residents), it brings in their families."

The expanded Manor House will eventually employ about a dozen more people, but first comes filling up all of the new apartments in the recently completed East and West wings.

Often, people think of retirement as a chance to move to the sunny South, but Davis says, for a lot of retirees, that just isn't as appealing as staying close to home.

"What we fundamentally like is where we live," Davis said.  "I think many times that’s what people are looking for. They want to live in a place that feels good to them, that is familiar to them, that has the kind of lifelong connections that they have, and maybe they have family close by."

The Manor House offers three different apartments -- studios, one bedroom, two bedrooms. Residents receive three meals a day, weekly cleaning, activities and transportation.

The youngest resident of The Manor House is 64 and the oldest is 97, but the average age, Davis said, is somewhere in the mid-80s.

"We’re looking for the couple for whom three meals a day has really become a burden, or for the single who has lost a spouse and really needs a community," Davis said. "We’re looking for people who want to live the next phase of their life in a way that has a stronger community, has more people and more things that are taken care of for them."

Tours of The Manor House are available daily.

After the jump, more pictures:

There was one large community room in the original facility. The West Wing added three smaller community areas. This one has a stove and refrigerator and can be used for a variety of gatherings, from watching football or movies to ice cream socials or birthday parties with families. Gordon said he recently used the stove to bake cookies, which he left on the counter, and they didn't last long.

During the day, this studio serves as a model showroom. When Gordon is in town, it's also where he stays. They decided to decorate a studio rather than one of the other apartments to show just how comfortable and roomy the studios can be.

Yes, residents can have cats -- and dogs upon approval.

This is another of the common rooms -- it's on the third floor and has more masculine decor. The second floor is more feminine. The Manor House now has 10 men living there and Davis said they've become buddies.

Victorian Manor sold to 10 investors, changes name

By Howard B. Owens

Victorian Manor in Batavia, which has been facing financial difficulty (just last fall, there were $1.54 million in liens against the property), has a new owner and a new name.

It's now The Manor House, owned and operated by Manor House, LLC.  The financially troubled Sunwest Management transferred the facility to a group of 10 individual investors.

Full press release after the jump:

It’s official—Victorian Manor is now The Manor House.  On Friday, June 
26, 2009, ownership was transferred from Sunwest Management to Manor House, 

The new owners are the 10 individual investors who were originally brought in 
by Sunwest when it purchased the facility in 2006.  When Sunwest began to 
struggle financially in 2008, the investors undertook an effort to take 
control of the facility and have now been able to conclude the transfer of 
control and ownership.

“We loved this facility when we first invested in 2006 and love it even 
more today as we have been able to really get to know the staff and 
residents,” said Gordon Davis, the Managing Partner for the new ownership.  
“This is more than a physical facility.  It is home for our residents, but 
also, a community itself and an integral part of Batavia and all of Genesee 

The Manor House is an independent living facility for seniors with 40 
apartments and a full dining room in the original 15 year old building on 
East Main Street.  The new owners will now complete the construction of two 
new wings which will bring the total number of studio, one and two bedroom 
apartments to 90.

Despite its financial and management troubles, Sunwest, as the fourth largest 
operator of senior living facilities in the nation, understood how to design 
a senior living facility that was more than just an apartment.  The new wings 
were designed to complement the existing building with additional common 
community spaces, an exercise room; a games and recreation room, a hair salon 
and a large “ice cream parlor.”  “I think the ice cream parlor will be 
where everyone meets during the day” said Davis.  “Living at The Manor 
House is about being with friends and people you enjoy.  Staff is there to 
support our residents with high quality meals, organized activities and 
service that meets the different needs that our residents have.”

“We have finalized our agreements with the contractors and they will be 
back to work to finish the new wings beginning next week” said Davis.  
“We expect to have our first apartments ready for occupancy within about 
four weeks.”

Local contractors who had stopped work last summer and filed liens on the 
property are pleased to be back to finish their work.  “We are proud of the 
work that we do and it was hard to see this so close to completion yet no way 
to finish” said Brian Wormley of Wormley Construction, a contractor doing a 
walk through today. “This is a great facility and it will be nice to see 
people moving in soon.”

The Manor House was originally built by St. Jerome Hospital in conjunction 
with the Sisters of Mercy in 1994.  It has been a prominent feature on East 
Main ever since, and during the summer months, always with residents enjoying 
the daily movement of Batavia from its expansive porch.

Still no answers from Victorian Manor — Liens in excess of $1.54 million

By Philip Anselmo

You can now count the Daily News among those of us trying to get information from officials at Victorian Manor, where construction ground to a halt earlier this year amid rumors that the Main Street senior living complex would soon close down altogether. Any attempt to find out what was going on has been met with stalwart silence on the part of Marcia Noonan, the complex manager, and it turns out we weren't the only ones getting stonewalled.

Reporter Joanne Beck called up the complex on Monday and got nowhere. Nevertheless, she put together an interesting piece that mostly rehashes what was reported on The Batavian nearly a month ago by our diligent and undaunted readers. She did, however, have some other information that we have not yet seen that helps paint a bit more of a detailed picture.

A resident, who asked not to be identified, has also said the site's emergency system has not been working since this summer. The system involves pull cords in each resident's bed and bath rooms. It was touted as part of the security for an apartment that costs some $2,000 a month plus utilities.

The Batavian also received an anonymous tip on this same topic, but since we were unable to verify the individual's identity, we were unable to publish what was alleged.

Most of Beck's article, as mentioned, is made up of information that Kelly Hansen has been posting on The Batavian over the past three weeks. So, rather than report what we already reported, we will direct you to that earlier post.

Beck raises one point that is particularly confusing and possibly incorrect. She reports that KDA Construction Inc., a subsidiary of Sunwest Management, "filed a mechanic's lien for nearly $164,000 against Victorian Manor for lack of payment." Why would KDA, which is owned by Sunwest, file a lien against Victorian Manor, which is also owned by Sunwest? Wouldn't that amount to the company filing a lien against itself?

Our own research at the Genesee County Clerk's Office found that KDA Construction and Victorian Manor were both named as debtors in the mechanic's lien filed on September 17 by On It Inc., a Rochester-based company that claims $163,480.62 in unpaid labor and material costs. We telephoned On It earler today to see if we could get some more details. Unfortunately, the phone rang indefinitely. No answer. No voice mail. In the notice of the lien filed by On it, the labor and material costs were related to the installation of "HVAC equipment, duct work and piping."

Further, KDA Construction is named as a debtor in a dozen other liens filed over the past three months, totalling more than $1.54 million. The first, for $194,032, was filed on August 29; the most recent, for $22,382, was filed on October 29. In most of those, Batavia Senior Living LLC, the legal name for Victorian Manor, is also named as a debtor. Callea Electric Inc. is named as the creditor in the lien for $339,783.45—the most costly—filed on September 15.

Beck also spoke with a former employee of Victorian Manor who said that while she was employed there, "she was shorted money in her paycheck a number of times and had a couple of company checks bounce for insufficient funds." Ouch! Beck continues:

An investigation by the state Labor Department involved at least two employees who had complained about getting paychecks that did not include all the hours they had worked and about bouncing checks. Noonan had told Labor Standards Investigator Mary Confer that "she was aware checks had bounced" because management firm Sunwest Management had changed banks. However, the time period for bounced checks was from December 2006 to at least until April 2007, records state.

The Batavian called and left another message for Marcia Noonan earlier today. We have not yet received a call back. If we do, you can be sure we will let you know.

Victorian Manor rumor dispelled—sort of

By Philip Anselmo

We received a tip from one of our readers this morning that Victorian Manor was not merely delayed in the reconstruction of its facility on Main Street in Batavia, but that it would be closing down. We called to inquire about this and spoke with a woman who identified herself as Mrs. Noonan who said, regarding the rumor that Victorian Manor will close: "That's very incorrect."

Mrs. Noonan also told us that "the company is preparing a statement very soon," though on what, she wouldn't say. She told us to call her back next week, but she didn't say why.

We thought it important to note that the rumor proved false, but we were a little confused about what would be happening next week. We will get out any information as it becomes available to us.

News roundup: Candidate for police chief named by Daily News

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Friday):

  • Reporter Joanne Beck identified one of the two candidates in the running for the position of police chief as the force's 27-year veteran Sgt. Randy Baker. Beck said two sources named Baker as one of the candidates, but both requested to remain anonymous. Baker told her: "I can't comment on it." City Manager Jason Molino said he will "probably" make his choice by the end of next week, contrary to repeated news stories on WBTA that said Molino would "probably" decide by the end of this week.
  • Australian filmmaker Rohan Spong is in town to interview Batavia residents for a documentary on transgenderism, "specifically teachers who transition from male to female within the American school system." Batavia was vaulted into the national news spotlight in 2006, when a Batavia High School teacher announced that he was going have a sex change. School Superintendent Richard Stutzman declined an interview with Spong. Anyone else interested in being interviewed should call Spong at (310) 382-4807. He will be here for the day.
  • Genesee Speedway will host a benefit Saturday for racer Don Marsceill who was critically injured at the track last Friday. Gates open at 4:00pm, and drivers will pass their helmets through the stands to collect for Marsceill. Check out the article by Matt Surtel for more about Marsceill.
  • Genesee County Farmers Market opens for the season Tuesday in the parking lot at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road. The market will be open from 8:00am to 5:00pm Tuesdays and Fridays through to October 24.
  • Genesee County's YWCA will host more Women & Issues Luncheons. The next two will be October 1 and November 5 and cost $7 per session, and that includes lunch. Call (585) 343-5808. The article does not mention a location for the luncheons.
  • Head to the Old County Courthouse on Main Street from 5:30 to 6:30pm June 17 for the Genesee County Youth Court Open House. The organization is looking to recruit new members — between 8th and 11th grade. From the article: "Youth Court is a voluntary alternative for young people who face disciplinary action through school or law enforcement." Call Jocelyn Sikorski at the Youth Bureau at (585) 344-3960 for more information.
  • More than 600 people came out June 1 for an open house at Victorian Manor, the senior living community that is currently undergoing renovations that include the addition of 50 more apartments. The project should be finished by mid-July.

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