Kurt Rutzen imagined a place where he could feel safe; where he could be assisted when needed; where he could socialize and feel independent.
For him, Bethesda Cornerstone Village in Victoria is reality to that imagination.
“For too many people with disabilities, all they can do is imagine,” Rutzen said during the recent grand opening of the multi-faceted facility. “Imagine someone with a disability who isn’t scared to death to come home.”
Rutzen, a disability advocate and staff member at Cornerstone who lives in one of the complex’s units, said the residential community “is a concept that the whole community can embrace, and gives people like me a chance for more independence.”
The complex at 1519 82nd Street is the first of its kind in the U.S. Two more in the metro area are in the planning stages — Oakdale and Brooklyn Park. Cornerstone Village developments are expected to expand across the country, with each tailored to those communities’ needs and demographics.
“We are proud to hoist the flag here in Victoria,” said Mike Thirtle, president and CEO of Bethesda, a Wisconsin faith-based organization that since 1904 has provided homes and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“We hope to do dozens of these in the next few years across the country,” he added. “These will provide people the independence to live the lives they truly want to live.”
Cornerstone Village consists of 52 homes, including 37 apartment homes and 15 village homes. Up to 20% of the residences will serve people with disabilities.
The state-of-the-art residences are available for those with developmental disabilities and those age 55 and above.
“These are two groups who can feed off of each other; who will compliment each other well,” Thirtle said. “We anticipate tremendous interaction between those who live here.”
Thirtle highlighted a number of impressive amenities at the complex, especially the community center which will feature a number of activities and will eventually be available for public use.
The $18 million Cornerstone Village consists of 15 apartments in four one-story townhouses, and 37 units in a three-story apartment building on a 4.33-acre site where four vacant Bethesda intermediate care facility buildings once stood.
“It will be a place where people of all abilities live, socialize and even worship together,” Thirtle added. “We could not be more excited about the potential Cornerstone Village has to enhance the lives of people of Victoria.”
As part of the Sept. 24 grand opening, a time capsule including a Bible and various documentation, was buried on the grounds. Also included were a mask, hand sanitizer bottle and COVID-19 statistics for Sept. 1, 2020.