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BELLEVUE, WA-It is a tide that will not be held back by straight economics. While demand for new offices and other commercial construction cycles with the economy, the need for additional retirement and assisted-living facilities is being drive by more than 70 million aging baby boomers that will reach or surpass age 65 by the year 2030.

Despite the increasing need and developers’ attempts to fill it, however, nationally the public long-term-care industry is fighting for its survival, facing shortages of health care workers and profitability.

Assisted-living companies that went public in the last decade number more than a dozen. But many succumbed to financial death–and now only four of the survivors’ stocks are trading upwards of a buck a share.

Locally, some private companies are faring much better. Bellevue-based Leisure Care Retirement Communities is one those companies.

Founded in 1976 by Chuck and Karen Lytle, Leisure Care remains a family-owned business. With 33 retirement communities under its management belt throughout the western United States, it stands as one of the country’s larges privately-held retirement and assisted-living companies.

Within Washington, Leisure Care has seven properties, four of which lie within the Puget Sound market. And, yet another is under way.

The company is in the final stages of constructing its newest facility in the Eastside city of Issaquah, between Black Nugget Rd. and E. Lake Sammamish Parkway. The five-story 281-unit facility is scheduled for delivery in spring 2002.

In its 25th year, Leisure Care is celebrating not only its anniversary but last-year’s $99-million revenues. As part of its financing strategy, the company solicits private investments. An anonymous GlobeSt source who has been involved in several of Leisure Care’s projects says, “The company has a wonderful reputation. I’ve been very impressed with it, the Lytles and the people who work for them.” As for returns on investment, he says Leisure Care, “is right on its projections.”

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