Tuesday, May 31 , 2016, 1:36 pm | Mostly Cloudy 65º

New Local Owners Look to Revitalize Alexander Gardens Senior Assisted-Living Home

13 local investors buying 32-resident retirement facility on Santa Barbara’s Upper Eastside, aim to add programs and more community interaction

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

A group of locals will once again own Santa Barbara’s Alexander Gardens retirement home when the sale finalizes this week.

Thirteen local investors have jointly purchased the senior assisted-living home at 2120 Santa Barbara St. from Redding-based REIT, a real estate firm that has owned the iconic 1.54-acre property near the Santa Barbara Mission the past seven years.

With escrow expected to close Thursday, the group’s next task is to improve the living experience of 32 senior residents — part of a generation not typically known for its love of change.

One of the local investors is Gary Linker, a marriage and family therapist and director of the nonprofit Center for Successful Aging.

Linker learned that Alexander Gardens was up for sale late last year after a phone call from executive director Mitch Leichter. The two first met when Linker’s parents were residents of a nursing home near Los Angeles, where Leichter used to work, and they also crossed paths in Linker’s roles in the community.

Having raised more than $2 million with other investors, Linker said he’s eager to enter the senior care industry — a business that’s steadily blooming because of baby boomers.

“The numbers are very good here,” Linker said. “It’s a small business. This is a fantastic piece of land.”

Alexander Gardens’s 32 senior residents enjoy an experienced staff, vegetable and flower gardens, fountains, patios and a sweeping front lawn. (Alexander Gardens photo)
Alexander Gardens’s 32 senior residents enjoy an experienced staff, vegetable and flower gardens, fountains, patios and a sweeping front lawn. (Alexander Gardens photo)

Alexander Gardens, which includes three types of apartments in addition to those in the main house, was originally built in 1906 as a private residence. In 1939, Henrietta Alexander gave the property to the Santa Barbara Association for Old Age Care Inc., and the site has been a home for seniors ever since.

A sandstone wall and hedge surround the Spanish mission-style property, which encompasses vegetable and flower gardens, scenic fountains, private outdoor patios and a large front lawn.

Management has changed hands over the years, but Leichter is leading staff who have been in place about three years.

For the first time ever, Leichter said, Alexander Gardens is at capacity, and has a waiting list.

The new owners hope to bring residents more programs and opportunities to interact with community members, who will be invited to visit and use the property more often.

The owners also want to make families aware of the less expensive option of rooming with another resident, since most of the facility’s 25 rooms are currently singles.

“I think that they’ll be blessed with more opportunities,” Leichter said, noting a need to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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