Senior Housing Coming to Key Center


Ted Olinger

Architect’s initial conception of what the new housing may look like. Courtesy The Mustard Seed Project.

The Mustard Seed Project plans to build assisted living homes for elderly residents on 5 acres of undeveloped property in Key Center and create a gathering place for the community at large in the former Roadhouse restaurant building directly across the street at 9016 154th Ave.

Edie Morgan, founder and executive director of TMSP, signed off on a $725,000 loan to buy the two properties Aug. 30.

It will be the first senior housing project ever built on the Key Peninsula.

“We will be licensed for assisted living,” said Morgan. Each house will have 10 private bedrooms built around common areas that include a kitchen, dining room and living room. “It won’t be a situation where people stay in their room all the time, but if you don’t want to face the world first thing in the morning, you can make your own cup of coffee in your room. In a way, it reinforces the individual’s preferences,” Morgan said.

The former Roadhouse restaurant will become the new office for TMSP and a community-gathering place, Morgan said. “We’ll continue to offer all of the services we do now. I think the community has been waiting for something to happen here. It’s a great space for our work and it’s kind of unbelievable that we’re here now.”

“It feels like the biggest thing to hit the Key Peninsula since the grocery store complex was expanded, and I think it will be transformational for our community,” said Sara Thompson, TMSP board president.

Morgan said she hopes to have the offices open by the holidays and is already looking for programs to use the new space.

“We’re talking to a variety of potential partners to provide programs here; various kinds of fitness programs for older adults, arts and music activities,” she said. “The Tacoma Children’s Museum is very interested in what we might do together. We don’t know what that might look like yet, but it’s well known that bringing small children and youth together with older adults is a very positive thing for everyone involved.”

There will also be a café open to the public.

“The whole idea has always been to have this become part of the greater community and to invite the community to be engaged with the older folks living here,” Morgan said.

The entire project should cost $7.5 million. “We have a $2.5 million capital campaign ahead of us,” Morgan said. “We hope to break ground in two years and open in three.”

Once it’s opened, the project will provide 25 health care jobs, Morgan said. “It’s conceivable that in the coming years we employ up to 40 people,” including RNs, caregivers, café and office staff. “It’s a big deal economically for the Key Peninsula,” she said.

The assisted living homes will house 10 residents plus caregiver staff. Morgan said the financial plan anticipates keeping fees “slightly below” the market rate in Gig Harbor, which she estimated at $3,100 per month. As a resident’s needs for care increase, so will the cost.

“We can accommodate 30 percent Medicaid residents; that’s built into our financial planning,” Morgan said. “It will be a goal of the organization to do fundraising that can subsidize folks. Most assisted living places don’t accept Medicaid, but it’s important to us.

“It’s a home for life model and our goal has always—always—been that once a person moves in that they can stay. Their needs may increase, their funds may decrease, and we want to do everything we can to help them stay in this community,” she said.

“It’s been 10 years and a lot of work—a lot of work—but it feels incredible,” she said.

For more information, call Edie Morgan at The Mustard Seed Project: 884-1205.