Developers could break ground within six months for a 30,000-square-foot skilled nursing care facility planned in Union.

Local officials Thursday night met with corporate representatives of a St. Louis-based Benchmark Healthcare, LLC, who said work tentatively will begin in February 2013, according to City Administrator Russell Rost.

He added that Benchmark also is applying for a certificate of need for an additional 20 beds than initially planned at the facility.

The Benchmark facility will be located at the intersection of St. Andrews Drive and Denmark Road.

In July, the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee approved the need for a 60-bed facility in Franklin County. The new request must be approved by the same commission.

Thursday’s meeting with Benchmark representatives was were in Union to meet with city and county leaders, including Union Fire Protection Chief Russ Hamilton, Police Chief Norman Brune, members of the Union Development Corporation, and others.

“The purpose was for the officials working with Benchmark to meet with their corporate people,” said Rost. “It was a social gathering and a chance to exchange business cards — it was for everybody to become familiar with each other.”

He added that Benchmark officials showed an elevation map and preliminary site plans.

Everybody was very impressed and it looks like they are preparing to move forward with the project,” Rost said.

The new skilled nursing care facility will create both jobs and a much needed “care-amenity” for the community, he said.

“Initially it would mean 100-plus jobs for the people in the community, and many of them related to health and science profession,” he said.

That would be beneficial to those who are enrolled in the East Central College nursing program.

“They may use the facility during education process,” Rost said. “That also could be a place where graduates can seek employment, as well as other people in area.”

He further added that the facility is “very positive” for the care of its residents, and those within the entire county.

According to Rost there are highly capable facilities in the area, but not enough to meet the needs of all residents.

“Many residents who need skilled nursing and rehab services have to go to other communities,” he said. “It is not that we don’t have them but the state has recognized a shortage in Franklin County.”

“Now people will have another option in the community,” Rost added.

The facility will be located in an area where more land is available for purchase, which could attract other businesses to that area.

“There is the possibility of ancillary businesses in the vicinity,” Rost said. “This could be a centerpiece for that commercial area.”

Initial plans called for a $6.5 million facility to employ approximately 90 associates, but that was prior to the request for an additional 20 beds.

However, the facility will feature state-of-the-art amenities and infrastructure to improve and modernize the quality of care in the area. The services provided will be a combination of both long-term care and rehab-to-home.

Benchmark Healthcare, LLC, is a regional operator and investor in senior housing properties, specifically focusing on skilled nursing care. The company is based in St. Louis with operations in two states, representing 20 facilities, 1,900 units and 1,650 associates.