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Mill Pond dedicates and celebrates its Grand Re-Opening

Mill Pond senior living community, located in Ankeny, IA, celebrated the completion of its redevelopment last week with a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting on Thursday, October 5, followed by a public grand re-opening on Saturday, October 7.

Construction for the Mill Pond expansion, which began in June 2015 to mark Mill Pond’s 20th Anniversary, was completed earlier this month.

Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

“God needs every one of us to make this type of a community become a reality,” said Sharon Strickler, Vice President of Operations for Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), as she welcomed the attendees at Thursday’s dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony. “We give thanks for the work of all of your hands, your service and prayers that made this campus a possibility,” she said acknowledging civic and business leaders, Mill Pond residents, families and staff.

The Ankeny Chamber of Commerce led the ribbon cutting alongside Mark Hudson, Campus Administrator, Mill Pond residents and staff and other civic and business professionals who had a hand in the Mill Pond redevelopment and expansion. Among those attending were Matt Sexton, representing U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, and Ankeny Mayor Gary Lorenz.

From left: Mayor Gary Lorenz, Matt Sexton, Sharon Strickler“Mill Pond has been an Ankeny fixture for decades. It has truly been a community anchor and part of the history of Delaware Avenue,” Mayor Lorenz told the group, referring to the main arterial road that runs through the city and parallels Interstate 35. “Usually at dedications and ribbon cuttings I would say thank you for your investment IN Ankeny. In the case of Mill Pond’s expansion here today, I say thank you for your investment FOR Ankeny,” he said.

Steve Knutson, who lives nearby in Ankeny, also spoke at the dedication. He recalled how, as a local banker, he stood on Delaware Avenue over two decades ago when it was only a gravel road. He was assessing the undeveloped property that became Mill Pond. He said that now Mill Pond is like an extension of his family’s home. His mother-in-law Helen Smith is a resident in The Terrace senior apartments. His father-in-law, Marvin Smith, lived at the Gables Care Center until his death in February 2017. Steve’s 82-year old mother, Clarice Knutson, has lived at Mill Pond since 2015 and moved to a new assisted living apartment in June 2017.

“She likes her new apartment, especially the new carpet smell” said Steve Knutson. “When her friends visit, she takes pride in the compliments she receives. It’s a notch up for her,” he said. Knutson commended the staff for helping her make the transition smoothly from her old apartment to the new. “The staff has been very understanding. Before she moved, they showed her the new place. That helped calm her anxieties about the change and build her enthusiasm for the move,” he said.

Grand Re-Opening

Saturday’s Grand Re-Opening welcomed residents and guests to a fall celebration that included refreshments, live music, games and Big-12 college league football on the big screen in the movie theatre. Guests were invited to tour the newly opened areas of the community and enjoy the company of family and friends.

Mill Pond now serves more than 235 older adults by providing 124 senior apartments, 40 assisted living apartments and 18 memory care apartments. In November 2016, the new Gables care center opened offering skilled nursing care for persons who are recovering from surgery, illness or injury and long-term care in private, semi-private and shared suites.

The new Town Center features a market, movie theater, wellness center, club lounge, chapel, library and more. A comprehensive therapy center offers rehabilitative services.

“It’s great to have these beautiful buildings, but at the heart of the matter is how well the staff treats residents,” Knutson said. He sees how the Mill Pond caregivers not only provide outstanding care, but have built personal and meaningful relationships with her. He said, “She told me that she just likes having people around and I feel assured that anything she needs is just a push-button away.”

Meeting a growing demand

In the two decades since Mill Pond opened, Ankeny’s population has grown from 21,000 to 54,000 citizens, making it the 11th fastest growing city in Iowa and the 3rd largest community in the Des Moines Metro Area. 

Recent studies report that 51,646 people age 65 and over in live in Polk County, making it the largest population of this age group in any county in Iowa. Based on national and state growth projections, the population over 65 is expected to increase by 27% in 2030. This means that over 65,000 older adults in the county may be looking for support services.

Senior Housing Partners, the project development team of PHS, oversaw the project, including planning, construction, start-up operation and marketing. CBS Construction Services, Inc., based in Champlin, Minnesota was the general contractor. The design is by Insite Architects, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The $35M project is financed through Great Western Bank, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with branch locations in Ankeny and the Des Moines metro area.

Serving older adults in the Ankeny area since it opened in 1995, Mill Pond affiliated with PHS in 1999 and is one of three Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) senior living communities in Iowa. All living options are now open and offer a wide range of lifestyle choices. To inquire about reservations or schedule a tour, contact Donita Snook, Housing Counselor, at (515) 964-2273 or

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