Growth Story: TLC Living Community

This senior living community allows residents to age in place. Learn what amenities will be available for seniors and find out when this facility will finally open its doors.

Traci Kline, executive director of TLC Living Community, says she’s excited to see the first residents arrive late this winter. (Blake Nunes photo)
Traci Kline, executive director of TLC Living Community, says she’s excited to see the first residents arrive late this winter. (Blake Nunes photo)

TLC Living Community was just an idea 10 years ago. In just a few weeks, the senior living facility finally opens its doors.

“We’re ready to open this to the public so they can see how spectacular it is,” says Executive Director Traci Kline, RN, BS, MPH, ACM. “This is more of a hotel than an assisted living facility, but it will include the best care possible for our residents.”

This $16 million senior living community, slated to open in February, has 62 private apartments that include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

There’s so much anticipation for its long-awaited opening that roughly 20 apartments already have been preleased.

“People are believing in us and they’re trusting that this facility will be as beautiful as they think it’ll be,” says Rod Gustafson, co-owner of TLC. “People started signing up more than a year ago.”

The vision and plan for TLC, 508 Roosevelt Road, Machesney Park, Ill., didn’t come together overnight. In fact, the senior living facility has gone through several evolutions.

“About 10 years ago, even before the recession, we developed drawings and plans for this facility,” Gustafson says. “Machesney Park and the surrounding area were in need of a senior living facility. When the recession hit, everything stopped.”

During the recession, Gustafson says, it was nearly impossible to get financing for the project.

Once the recession ended and the economy started turning around, funding for the project became available, so it was finally able to get off the ground.

The property sits at the south end of the former Machesney Park Mall. It gave Gustafson and his team more than 10 acres of land to work with.

Bringing this vision to fruition has been a labor of love for Gustafson and a dedicated team working behind the scenes.

“Everything was done in house,” Gustafson says. “We did the design, drawings, managed the construction and hired the subcontractors. Everything was done locally.”

Kline, who will oversee the day-to-day operations at TLC, has 28 years of experience as a nurse, including 16 years in geriatric settings. She says a good friend referred her to TLC, and she hasn’t looked back.

“I have a philosophy to spend 20 percent of my time in the office and 80 percent on the floor talking to residents and their families,” says Kline, who holds a bachelor’s degree in health care administration and a master’s degree in public health. “I don’t think you should hide behind a door and an office.”

TLC sets itself apart from the other senior living facilities in the area by implementing its unique aging-in-place philosophy.

“You can be as independent as you want when you move into your own apartment, and as you may need services, you don’t have to leave the facility for anything,” Kline says. “We’re able to provide complete services, including PT/OT and physician care.”

The staff also will offer frequent activities and excursions so the residents can interact with each other. There’s also plenty of spaces throughout the building where residents can relax and spend time together.

“The building is shaped like a ‘Y’ with a lot of gathering space in the middle of each floor, which acts as social hubs,” Kline says. It encourages people to engage with the other residents and their families. This is more of a community, instead of a building.”

People who come to TLC, Kline says, will be able to create new relationships with other seniors.

“We want to keep the residents social,” she says. “When they’re home, they might feel isolated and probably don’t come out as often as their family would like. If they’re living at TLC, their lives will be enriched.”

When you walk into the building, you’ll be greeted by a concierge service. There’s also a casual bistro where residents and family members can grab drinks and snacks, and enjoy those snacks as they watch a movie in the media room. Residents can watch movies on an 85-inch television, equipped with surround sound and theater seating.

Amenities also include a laundry service, housekeeping, a computer room, salon, exercise and physical therapy room, and restaurant-style dining with an experienced chef.

“Cooking for one person is tough because they can be eating poorly or not at all,” Kline says. “We’ll do all that for you.”

Walking paths, raised garden beds, an outdoor patio and gazebo also will be available, if residents want to grab some fresh air.

Plenty of large, oversized windows let in natural light – a design choice intended to lift the spirits of everyone at TLC.

“Every room is full of light, and it’s just fantastic,” Gustafson says. “If you’re in an atmosphere with a lot of natural light, it’s a much happier place to be. There will be no doom and gloom here.”

The long-term TLC vision is far from completion. The facility that’s set to open in February is phase one of the overall project. There are plans in place for a second phase, which consists of a 30-apartment expansion with a dementia unit and a third phase, which will include townhouses near Machesney Park Village Hall, located roughly a block to the west. The entire project will cost upwards of $30 million when it’s all said and done.

“This will end up being a full campus when it’s completed down the line,” Gustafson says.

For now, Kline, Gustafson and the rest of the TLC family are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to open those doors and provide first-class care. And they’ll have a lot of fun along the way.

“This will be a very busy and active place,” Gustafson says.