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Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Best Choice Rehabilitation
The picture at left is an exterior shot of a rundown, abandoned nursing home about to be reborn as Per Wickstrom's newest addition venture, Best Choice Rehabilitation.

The building is located at 15140 16th Avenue in Marne, Michigan.

According to official property records, Wickstrom purchased the building in 2012. A former assisted living/adult foster care home, the place had a checkered history.


On May 17, 2011, the Grand Rapids Press reported that Creekview Lodge I, a Marne assisted living center operating out of 15140 16th Avenue, was under investigation by the Michigan Department of Human Services. According to the report, the state confirmed that it was investigating the center, which shut down quickly the prior week, giving little notice to elderly residents whose families had to move them to a new home.

The Press reported that interviews with the out-of-state landlord and utility companies paint a picture of a building that had been foreclosed on in recent years — and was for sale — and mounting unpaid gas bills that had led to a recent shutoff notice.

Residents’ family members say they were given four days to find new homes for them after learning that Creekview Lodge I was to close last week. The facility’s owners helped make arrangements for the seniors before surrendering their DHS license.

Creekview’s closure came after its owners were notified the building’s gas would be shut off by the end of last week due to delinquent bills and tens of thousands of dollars owed to the utility, DTE Energy.

In meetings with families, they said the center’s owner, Jill Shepard, blamed the shutdown on the landlord’s failure to pay utility bills. Shepard said Monday she plans to pursue a lawsuit against the building landlord and has it in writing that the utility bills were his company’s responsibility.

But one of the landlords, reached in California, told the Grand Rapids Press a different story. John Edwins, an investor in the property and assistant manager of the limited liability corporation that owned the property, said his company  not responsible for the utility bills. He said he began paying them to help Shepard “get back on her feet” after the property fell into financial distress.

Edwins, an investor with Financial Freedom Loans Inc., said he was one of many investors who lent Shepard millions of dollars to renovate the facility, which she purchased in 2006. Financial Freedom foreclosed on the property in November 2009, Edwins said. At that time, no payment had been made on the property for 19 months, he said.

Soon after the foreclosure, Shepard began leasing the building from Michigan Retirement Holdings for $10 per month, Edwins said.

Shepard had difficulty paying the utility bills, Edwins said, and he attempted to help by paying for them through March 2010.

A spokesman for DTE Energy, Scott Simons, called the Creekview situation “a mess” and said no payment has been received since February. Before that time, partial payments and insufficient checks were received, he said.

Records indicate the State of Michigan never opened an investigation in 2011. However, in early 2009, the Department of Human Services launched an investigation of Creekview after a flurry of complaints landed in Lansing.

Among the complaints were allegations that residents were required to do chores in the facility, that medications were not always administered by staff  as required, bathrooms went unclean for days and they contained urine and fecal materials, and residents would often go days without being showered.

A significant number of violations were established after the investigation and owner Jill Shepard and administrator Marlene Jacobs were given a plan of correction for the 20 bed facility.

In October 2009, the state granted the facility a temporary license after inspecting the facility and completing its investigation.


Wickstrom bought the property for a relative song in 2012 when he purchased the bank-owned "distressed" property.

Built in 1975, the property was described on LoopNet as a "potential 100-200 beds facility". The description indicated the property was priced at $1.44MM ($15.6 sq. ft.). Wickstrom must have been there they day they had a 50 percent off sale, since official records show he paid $650,000 for the property.

The facility consists of an assisted living section (one-story) and an independent living section (three-story, partially complete). The two sections are legally separated and have a firewall between the structural walls for the two sections. The assisted living section was appraised at $3.7MM based on a 70 beds operation in November  2007.

The facility includes security and fire alarm systems, two elevators, one drive-in door, and one emergency generator. Amenities include an equipped kitchen and laundry, three dining rooms, two outdoor courtyards, two solariums, three therapy rooms, and a classroom, a beauty parlor, an activity room, and parking for 132 vehicles. 

Miss Fortune wonders if there's enough paint and polish to make this crumbling hulk the "peaceful retreat" described on Best Choice Rehabilitation's newly-released website:

Something tells me the answer is no.

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