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Local Entrepreneur Planning Seniors' Residence Forced to Halt.
Remains committed to project

AN Ottawa-Carleton man who had been planning to build a seniors' residence for LGB people in the centrertown area came close to fulfilling his dream recently when financial and real-estate issues forced a halt in the plan.

"I put in an offer ... and had 75% of my money found," Robert Racine said in an interview with gayottawanow.com this afternoon.  "[Then they] told me somebody owned the building ... I went by about an hour ago and there's still no 'Sold' sign.  So I figure that it might not be sold ... It might still be available."

Maybe I took the wrong route.  Should it be a Community project more than a private project?  Should I have [involved] the Community more?
-Robert Racine
Mr. Racine, who describes his background as being mainly in sales with extensive involvement in social services and nursing homes, had been eyeing the former facilities of the Centretown Community Health Centre at 340 and 342 Maclaren Street for the location of the residence to be named Maison Eden House.  He had met with local government officials on the matter as well as retaining a lawyer and an architect.

Contributing most of the start-up capital himself, this middle-aged gay entrepreneur had hoped sufficient investors from the Community could be found to top it up.  He commented:  "Maybe I took the wrong route.  Should it be a Community project more than a private project?  Should I have [involved] the Community more?  That's the question I'm asking myself.  My main idea at first was to get the building.

"If we could get a lot of these people [those willing to invest $100/month to become shareholders] or if they want to buy $10,000 worth of shares they can ... This way it could be done."

Mr. Racine described the possibility of receiving government funding for Maison Eden House, and subsequently structuring it as a not-for-profit organization, as:  "In that line of work I don't think so because basically there's too much of a demand [for funding] ... [and] the problem with a co-op [as an alternative] is they don't have any funding ... We could do it private if members of the Community were to participate in it."

'The demand is there, definitely,' the former business owner explained.
He expects, however, that operating expenses will not be a problem if the remaining capital for start-up can be found.  "The business plan is three-quarters completed," he added.

Prices for residency in the retirement complex would be at competitive levels, Mr. Racine explained, and would include an on-site nurse during business hours and a doctor "coming in".  He believes the units would be appropriate for seniors who retain physical independence but need help in taking medication and require occasional "home care" types of services.  "It's not a nursing home," he stated firmly.

Included in the building would be recreational facilities and programs as well as meeting and get-together rooms for Community organizations.  A $10 day program would be available for those who do not wish residency but simply participation.

"There's nowhere, where as a gay person, I can go and say 'Hey, I want to live my life.'  Yeah OK ... in a gay bar we can talk ... whatever we want, people won't notice.  But just go across the street.  Can you do it? ... The demand is there, definitely," the former business owner explained.

Mr. Racine remains committed to building Maison Eden House.  "I'm still very interested in doing it ... I don't mind if I'm not getting one cent out of it, not even a job.  But the project has to go ... My greatest qualities are to put together projects.  [I'm thinking] after the project is up and running hire somebody to continue the daily operation, the routine."

Anyone interested in Maison Eden House can contact Robert Racine at (613) 276-1499 or at maison_eden_house@hotmail.com.  Further details may be found at www.geocities.com/maison_eden_house.