A proposed regional nursing facility in Rockland would replace two existing aging facilities, including the Knox Center. Credit: Lauren Abbate / BDN

ROCKLAND, Maine ― Construction is set to begin this fall on a $19.5 million nursing home after Rockland planners gave the project the final greenlight this week.

The 69,000-square-foot, single-story facility will offer 96 beds for people in need of long-term, memory and rehabilitative care. The facility, named Breakwater Commons, will replace two aging assisted-living facilities in Rockland and Camden, saving Pen Bay Medical Center about $2 million annually.

The Rockland Planning Board gave the project final approval at its meeting Tuesday night. Last year the city council approved a zoning change that will allow the developer, Sandy River Co. to build the facility on 28 acres located at 41 Cranberry Isles Dr., off Old County Road near a residential neighborhood.

The project was originally slated to cost $16.5 million but Rockland planning officials say the total price has gone up by about $3 million since it was proposed.

City officials are requiring the Portland-based developer to conduct a traffic study for the project to address fears from neighbors who are worried about congestion. Sandy River Co. will also have to put in place sound mitigation for the facility’s heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

The new facility will replace Rockland’s Knox Center and the skilled-nursing portion of Quarry Hill in Camden. Both facilities are managed by Pen Bay Medical Center.

The Knox Center was converted from a hospital to a 44-bed nursing home in 1976, but its age and design make it largely inefficient for that use, local hospital officials have said. Quarry Hill is newer than the Knox Center, but patients must share rooms.

The new facility will offer private rooms and provide greater patient access to outdoor space.

Sandy River Co. ― which operates numerous nursing homes across Maine ― would also oversee the facility. Pen Bay Medical Center would staff the facility with several clinicians.

Developers said they hope to open the facility in 2023.