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Contributed photo from Morning Pointe / Morning Pointe of Chattanooga executive director Cody Harvey, left, and community relations director Emily Thibodeau stand in front of the renovated Morning Pointe of Chattanooga building on Shallowford Road.

Five months after sustaining major damage when a series of tornadoes ripped through Chattanooga on Easter night, Morning Pointe of Chattanooga is set to reopen as a rebuilt assisted living community later this fall and an Alzheimer's facility across the street should be refurbished by next summer.

Construction on Morning Pointe of Chattanooga is now 85 percent complete as contractors are putting the finishing touches on a $6-million investment into rebuilding the East Brainerd community. The walls of the storm-damaged facility were completely stripped of sheet rock, insulation and wiring, and flooring removed to make way for an entirely new building.

"When residents move back in this fall, they will notice a sense of familiarity, but at the same time, everything from the floor to the ceilings is brand new," said community relations director Emily Thibodeau.

Morning Pointe of Chattanooga and its sister community, The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer's Center of Excellence, were deemed uninhabitable shortly after the tornado devastated the East Brainerd community in April. The 130 residents in the complex were evacuated to local hotels with no major injuries, and, ultimately, relocated to nearby Morning Pointe campuses, as rebuilding efforts for both Morning Pointe of Chattanooga and The Lantern began in earnest.

"While we are social distancing, wearing masks, and following strict safety protocols for our residents and associates, there is still a lot of wonderful engagement and activity happening every day from creative arts, music, window and drive-through family visits, virtual family nights—plus frequent FaceTime calls," said Cody Harvey, executive director of Morning Pointe of Chattanooga.

Originally opened in 2015, Morning Pointe of Chattanooga is a 62,000-square-foot assisted living community of 77 apartments occupying a 10-acre site along Shallowford Road between Gunbarrel and Jenkins Roads.

Morning Pointe of Chattanooga is one of 35 Morning Pointe assisted living and The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer's Center of Excellence communities in five southeastern states, including other local facilities in Hixson, Collegedale and East Hamilton County. The Morning Pointe facilities are developed, owned, and managed by Independent Healthcare Properties, LLC, a Chattanooga-based senior healthcare services company founded in 1996 by Tennessee healthcare entrepreneurs Greg A. Vital and J. Franklin Farrow.

"The Morning Pointe of Chattanooga campus is rebuilding stronger than ever before, rising from the ashes of the Easter night tornado to continue to serve the seniors of East Brainerd and the greater Chattanooga community at large," said Vital, president of Morning Pointe Senior Living. "We would not be where we are today without the resilience of Morning Pointe's associates, the support of state and local officials, and of course, the hard-working construction teams. "

Renovations to The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer's Center of Excellence are progressing as scheduled, Vital said. Repairs to the memory care community are expected to be completed in summer 2021.

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Contributed photo by Morning Pointe / A construction employee installs wallpaper at Morning Pointe of Chattanooga.
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