Mill Stream Village is open

by Cori Hilsgen

If you are interested in living in the heart of a thriving and vibrant college town, than Mill Stream Village might be a good option for you. The Village is a place for both working and retired adults.

So far, three private homes and eight shared-care cottages have been built. One of the private homes is available to rent or own.

Just recently opened, the shared-cared cottages are available for an assisted-living experience. The cottages are clustered together and include an on-site, “Home Instead Senior Care” in-home care provider. The cottages are available for lease and include all utilities except phone and high-speed internet. Detached garages are also available for an additional fee.

All cottages have individual front porches for private entry but also center around a community dining room where residents can gather for meals. Residents can plant flowers, hang bird feeders and otherwise decorate their front entries. Most pets are allowed, with a few exceptions. A damage deposit for cleaning is required for pet owners.

The care provider is based in a centrally located office connected to the cottages. Each household receives a minimum of seven hours of personal-care assistance each week. Additional services can be added as needed or desired.

The cottages are one-bedroom or one-bedroom-plus-den designs. Each has a full kitchen, in-floor heat, washer and dryer and many features to make retirement living easier. Each offers enough space for one or two individuals.

The Village is owned by Jon Petters, Colleen Hollinger Petters, Peter Gillitzer and TJ Properties. Hollinger Petters, vice president of marketing and sales, said baby boomers have changed the game and really raised the bar of expectations for what 65-plus living should look like. Many don’t want it to be retirement, but want to remain actively working. Adult children of parents who are in their mid-80s and 90s are also wanting and expecting more for their parents in assisted living.

She said college towns offer a variety of reasons why they are a good place to retire. Living in a vibrant community is not just desirable but also really important.

“We have taken our research, experience and – most importantly – listening to people right here to develop high-quality yet not-so-big homes in a location very close to downtown St. Joseph,” Hollinger Petters said. “This includes the assisted-living cottages that each have their own private entrance, along with a main entrance, yet are part of this community.”

Hollinger Petters said many local residents who do not want to relocate to St. Cloud for their retirement might want to consider the Village. It’s located very close to downtown St. Joseph, offering pharmacies, a health clinic, groceries, church, restaurants and a coffee shop, a library, shopping and other options.  The area includes many walkable streets with sidewalks leading to the downtown area or the college campus.

“We want residents at Mill Stream Village to get involved in the community if they are interested and physically able to do that,” Hollinger Petters said. “We want them to be so familiar at the local coffee shop, food coop, or on their walking or biking route that they become a regular.”

Hollinger Petters said they know that for some people in assisted living,  that familiarity might be as close as their immediate neighbors in the cottage next door.

She added they don’t want to malign the residents and developers of larger retirement community apartment buildings and feel those buildings offer unique components such as organized activities, craft rooms and other options for people who want them.

The Village differs from other retirement areas because it’s located close to town, so transportation is not as difficult. Being closer to town also helps strengthen involvement options for volunteering in town or on the College of St. Benedict campus.

There are options to participate in activities and other things at the college.

“Being part of a town and community means you are involved in the lives, activities and events of people of all different ages,” Hollinger Petters said. “This is just a more natural and interesting lifestyle for most of us.”

Hollinger Petters said this has become the trend in many areas of the United States instead of socializing within an age-homogenous, isolated, large retirement-apartment building.

“Many boomers are part of the group named the Greatest Generation,” Hollinger Petters said. “A lot of them want to continue to volunteer and be part of their community and the location of Mill Stream Village is key to accessibility by the residents to this college town, what it needs from our residents and what the town has to offer back to them.”

People within the assisted-living community  have told the Village owners they want to retain their privacy and sense of normalcy, even when a spouse or partner needs home care. This is what led to the concept of the shared-care cottages – one individual of a couple needing help and the other not needing it.

A single person might enjoy the security of others being near, having some household help but yet continuing with their usual lifestyles.

“Being able to sit outside on your own front porch in the morning with a cup of coffee, watching kids leave for school and neighbors walk their dogs is a pleasure and something you might normally do at home,” Hollinger Petters said. “This is much harder to do in a larger building, away from a community.”

All meals are catered by Kay’s Kitchen. Evening dinners can be ordered from the menu. Residents can eat their meals privately in their own cottage or can eat in the community-dining room.  Other local restaurants will also deliver to the Village. Private home residents are also able to participate in the catering services.

St. Joseph resident Gary Osberg was the first person to have a house built in the Village. He moved there in March seeking a more peaceful and quiet setting and something close to his work.  He said he has found it.

Osberg, 70, works for Minnesota Public Radio. He said he loves his job and doesn’t plan to retire for a long time. It’s only about six miles to work for him.

“I love it,” Osberg said. “It is very quiet and comfortable.”

With 22 years experience in office-furniture design, he helped contact sound specialist experts that helped design the shared wall of his home. Osberg enjoys the high ceilings, in-floor heat and other features of his new home.

He said even when there have been large campus activities, his home has been quiet.

Located on Callaway Street and College Avenue South, the Village is a 55-plus community but younger people can live there too. At least one household member must be 35 years of age to reside there.

Home prices start at $189,000. The homes offer Hardie plank siding, Andersen Windows, in-floor heat and other options. The grounds for the village are association-managed.

Rent for one-bedroom cottages is currently $2,325 per month, and a two-bedroom is $2,495. On-site  care services for each cottage are $1,500 each month.  For more information, contact 320-363-7656.

photo by Cori Hilsgen
Colleen Hollinger Petters stands in the dining room of the shared-care cottages at the Mill Stream Village. Residents in both the assisted living cottages and private homes can use the dining room.

photo by Cori Hilsgen
A kitchen area of one of the shared-care cottages of the Mill Stream Village shows what is available to residents.

photo by Cori Hilsgen
Gary Osberg is the first person who built a private home in the Mill Stream Village. The home next to Osberg’s home is available to rent or own.

contributed photo
Each of the shared-care cottages in the Mill Stream Village has a private porch entry.

Cori Hilsgen

Cori Hilsgen

Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.
Cori Hilsgen
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