Perched on a quiet, leafy bluff off Davenport's 9th Street, the Kahl Home for the Aged has served Quad-City senior citizens for almost six decades.
The 135-bed continuing care community run by The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm grew from its humble roots as a retirement home in an old mansion to a full-service assisted living center.
But the old mansion, as well as the "new" modern wing built in 1963, are showing their age, and the growing demand for top-flight medical care has required the size of the staff to more than double over the past 20 years.
The Kahl Home board of directors plans to build a new, state-of-the-art campus on undeveloped land near Jersey Ridge Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway (67th Street) in north Davenport.
Rosalie Thomas, the Kahl Home administrator, said the modern amenities expected by seniors - such as walking paths, gardens, independent living apartments and cottages - are not possible on the home's small, urban campus.
"We're basically landlocked and limited on parking," she said.
Leaving Davenport never really was considered because the mansion was donated by the Kahl family to the Diocese of Davenport, and the board wants to honor the family's wishes.
The Kahl Home has entered into a contract to purchase 71 acres east of Jersey Ridge Road, about half of which must be rezoned from low-density residential to planned development district. The rezoning received a unanimous recommendation from the city's Plan and Zoning Commission and will go before the City Council for approval Wednesday.
Alderman Bill Boom, 3rd Ward, said his ward is losing an anchor in the Kahl Home, but he understands their mission requires the move.
"They've been a great neighbor and a fixture for years, but to compete in the current market, they've got to be able to provide a different type of environment, and their current facilities don't lend themselves for that," he said. "We're happy they've decided to stay in Davenport and move to an area where they have room to grow."
Boom said he expects the new Kahl facility to serve as a trailblazer and anchor in the corridor that is expected to be the next "53rd Street" in Davenport.
Thomas said the committee working on the move plans to stay involved in helping the city find a new use for the current facility.
"Just because it doesn't meet our current needs, doesn't mean it won't meet someone else's," she said.
Boom said the city wants to avoid another situation like Taylor School, which has not been successfully redeveloped, and would prefer to see the Kahl Home find new occupants.
"I plan on participating with them in marketing the property and working with any developer that might want to have senior housing or some other type of facility," he said. "It's a beautiful campus."
Looking out at the changing leaves and over the Mississippi River below, Sister Lois Baniewicz, who has served four missions at the Kahl Home since 1964, said there is some bittersweet feeling in the idea of moving.
"We wish we could take the view and the mansion with us," she said.