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New senior living center opening at this location in Flowery Branch
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Crews work in the courtyard of Watermark Senior Living's Lanier House Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Flowery Branch, as major renovations on the house nears completion. - photo by Scott Rogers

As real estate investors, Julie Kern and Dean Rappa were looking for a more meaningful project.

“We’re both Christians and we wanted something we could pour into more,” Kern said.

Looking at “less corporate” assisted living centers led them to Country Heritage at 5755 Conner Road in Flowery Branch. Two personal care homes sit on the 11-acre property, along with woods and the occasional deer and other wildlife passing through.

The partners bought the business that had operated since the 1990s and moved the residents to the 16-bed Chestatee home on the property while they embarked on a major makeover of the 20-bed Lanier home.

“It’s been a labor of love,” Kern said.

The property is now known as Watermark Senior Living, boasting on its website of being able to “provide a higher level of care to our residents” because of its smaller size, “with home-cooked meals, housekeeping and laundry services, and a robust activities calendar.”

“Transition is difficult. Nobody wants to leave their house, so we want to make it as seamless of a transition from their home to our homes,” Rappa said.

Construction is still in full swing at the Lanier home, but Kern says she hopes  “we’ll be open for business in the next week or two.”

She said some residents have already committed to living in the home and Watermark is otherwise “working through referrals, and we’ve done a lot of organic getting out in the community.”

“One of the things we’re big on is service,” Kern said. “We want to serve the community … and we’re looking for ways to be able to do that.”

The demand for senior housing is only rising, as assisted living and older adult developments have sprung up all over Hall County.

“We call it the silver tsunami,” Rappa said. “72 million seniors in the next 20 years are going to need a place to live. Fifteen thousand turn 75 every day in America; 10,000 turn 65 every day. So, there’s a huge need and we’re just happy to help fill that.”