SAFETY HARBOR — Safety Harbor Senior Living, an assisted living and memory care facility on downtown’s Main Street, is shutting down on Aug. 7 after years of operating struggles.
For at least the past two years, the facility’s owners have been unable to attract more than 20 residents at a time for the 50-bed facility, according to Raymond Ploucher, a partner in the ownership group.
Down to 14 residents, the facility was struggling to secure new clients before the visitation prohibitions enacted by the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ploucher said.
“It’s a financial decision to close it,” Ploucher said. “It’s hard for families to put mom or dad in a place when they can’t come visit during COVID, and that seems to be a big question mark. That hasn’t helped us when we were already having financial issues.”
About 10 of the 14 residents have found new placements since being given a 30-day notice of the closure on Thursday, according to Pilar Carvajal, CEO of Innovation Senior Management that runs the facility.
Carvajal expects to find placements for the remaining four residents, and many of the 15 staff members, by the facility’s last day.
“We’re going to be packing their things up, helping them to move, we’re working very, very closely with each family member to make sure we make the right selection in their next move,” Carvajal said.
The three-story structure near the city marina was built as a hotel in 1925 and in later years converted to an office building. Its top two floors serve as the assisted living and memory care units while the ground floor hosts retail stores.
Ploucher’s ownership group, Ucita Properties, bought the building in 1998 for $1.6 million, according to Pinellas County property records. They converted the top two floors into a senior living facility in 2011, according to state records.
Ploucher said the building is now for sale but does not yet have a buyer.
Safety Harbor Senior Living is the only assisted living facility operated by Ploucher’s group, which specializes in commercial real estate investment.
Ploucher said he hired Carvajal in 2019 to help turn the assisted living facility around. They upgraded the flooring, created new murals, bought tablecloths, plates and forks that matched for the first time in years. But Carvajal said there was not enough time to make the necessary cosmetic and operational upgrades.
“These properties, when they start going in the wrong direction, it’s like the Titanic, very large ships that take a long time to position back into profitability,” Carvajal said. “We were in our first year, so it’s not enough time to turn it around. Then COVID came and put it all to a screeching halt.”