WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — An organization is planning to spend $70 million to gradually demolish and rebuild a retirement community in northeast Iowa.

Friends of Faith Retirement Homes Inc. announced it'll invest in reconstructing its independent living apartments and skilled nursing center. The senior housing nonprofit opened Waterloo's Friendship Village in 1968, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.

"There were a number of options that the leadership of Friendship Village looked at, and some involved moving away," said Mike Young, attorney for Friends of Faith. "But they made the commitment to redevelop and reinvest in this neighborhood in these facilities where they've spent 50 years and are looking to spend 50 more years."

The Waterloo Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission voted Tuesday to endorse a zoning request and special permit for the project expected to begin next year.

Friendship Village has stopped new admissions to prepare for the project, which will be developed in phases to avoid displacing existing residents during the process. The project involves replacing the about 100-unit independent living building with a new four-story, 73-unit building. It also includes replacing the existing 72-unit skilled nursing center on the campus.

"When it's done, it will be a first-class facility that the neighborhood and the city and Cedar Valley can be very proud of," Young said.

The project does not affect other living facilities associated with Friends of Faith, including Village Place, Landmark Commons, Lakeview Lodge, Lakeview Landing or Rosewood Estate.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com