groundbreaking - 5 people with shovels and other people
Ignite Medical Resorts and Leo Brown Group break ground on Batavia, IL, SNF. Photo courtesy of Ignite Medical Resorts.

Chicago-based Ignite Medical Resorts broke ground Thursday on a new skilled nursing facility  in Batavia, IL. The company’s first new construction project since 2020 comes at a time when financing and construction costs, along with other issues, have many skilled nursing operators wary of new construction.

The company also will be breaking ground “soon” on a new construction project in St. Louis, Ignite CEO and co-founder Tim Fields told the McKnight’s Business Daily on Monday. They’re the first new construction projects for the company since 2020, when Ignite opened three new facilities built from the ground up.

“We’re still very bullish on new construction,” Fields said, noting, however, that “the last couple of years have proved a little bit challenging with COVID due to some of the fluctuations in the financing market, in the construction markets, specifically lumber, specifically the trades.”

Construction costs in skilled nursing have averaged $312 to $496 per gross square foot in 2024, compared with $302 to $479 per gross square foot a year ago, according to data prepared by The Weitz Co. for the American Seniors Housing Association earlier this year.

The Ignite Medical Resort Batavia construction project will create more than 200 construction jobs, Ignite said. The building is expected to be completed by fall. Once open, the SNF will result in approximately 150 healthcare and facility positions, the company said.

Ignite specializes in short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing conducted in a concierge-like environment that the company calls LuxeRehab. Services include clinical programming for orthopedics, stroke, cardiac and respiratory care. Therapists are all employed in-house.

A need for beds exists in Batavia, and the company has a “great” relationship with the Northwestern Medicine hospital system, Fields said.

Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital is near the location of the planned Batavia facility, he said. “There was nothing really over there that was kind of like our model, and so we saw an opportunity to continue our partnership with Northwestern as well as build a facility that is nothing like that in the area,” Fields added. Area residents who undergo a medical procedure or a hospital stay for an illness will be able to recover close to home at the Ignite location, according to the company.

Ignite already has five facilities in the greater Chicago area, FIelds said. In addition to the Illinois properties, the company operates in Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Ignite also has been growing through acquisitions. Earlier this month, the company announced the purchase of the former Symphony of Chesterton in Chesterton, IN, and in April, Ignite expanded its footprint in Texas via a $12.7 million loan from LTC Properties. That deal enabled the operator to purchase a skilled nursing and assisted living campus in Katy, TX, as part of an unconsolidated joint venture with the real estate investment trust.

“We’re looking at smart growth still, whether we can acquire it or we can build it,” Fields said.