ANTIOCH -- Operators of East Contra Costa's only adult day health care facility want to buy it from the city so they can serve more of the region's expanding population of seniors.
Rehabilitation Services of Northern California in September made the city an offer on the C Street building known as the Bedford Center, which provides the frail and elderly with therapy and social activities.
The city hasn't yet started negotiating because it first has to determine whether proceeds from the sale of the building must be returned to the county, the pass-through agency for a $194,100 federal grant that RSNC's predecessor received in 1986 to buy the building, City Manager Jim Jakel said.
That group sold the property to the city three years later for $1 because it couldn't afford the upkeep.
Jakel predicts that the city could be ready with a formal response to RSNC's offer by mid-February.
Of the 15 adult day care centers in Contra Costa County, Bedford Center is one of only three -- two of which RSNC runs -- that provide health care services.
The center currently uses about 2,500 square feet of a former church building that it's renting from the city.
If RSNC owned the property, it could add at least a couple of bathrooms, install wheelchair ramps, widen walkways and make the other improvements that state and local regulations require when an organization increases its capacity, said Debbie Toth, chief executive officer of the Pleasant Hill nonprofit.
Jakel said the city has no plans to do the renovations itself.
RSNC has been shopping around for roomier properties to rent or buy for more than a decade, Toth said, but there always have been barriers.
In some cases, the asking prices were out of its reach; other buildings, including a former bank in downtown Antioch, required cost-prohibitive improvements or were in neighborhoods that residents didn't want to share with people who have mental disabilities, Toth said.
"We feel like we've exhausted all other possibilities," she said.
At this point, it makes the most sense to buy the Bedford Center, Toth said, adding that the organization wants to keep the site centrally located because clients come from all over East County.
Toth wants the facility to be able to help more of those in the ever-growing baby boomer demographic.
State Department of Finance projections have Contra Costa County's 65-and-over population increasing by 21.6 percent to 187,233 in the next five years.
Adult day care is the only option for those who want to continue living at home but need supervision, Toth said.
"Nobody wants to get old and end up in an institution," she said, adding that places like Bedford Center are significantly less costly to the taxpayer than skilled nursing facilities. "(Nursing homes) shouldn't be the first response to aging."
Currently licensed to serve 30 adults, the center has a full-time nurse along with a part-time speech and physical therapist to care for physical needs that range from hypertension and diabetes to dementia and mental illness.
The services are a boon to clients as well as caretakers, who aren't always able to be there for their loved ones.
Terry Iacona says she'd be sitting in front of the TV watching episodes of "Family Feud" if she weren't at the center, where four times a week she enjoys crafts projects, sing-alongs, discussions about current events and games.
"People like me come here for just a few hours to get out of the house," she said.
The 52-year-old Antioch woman suffered a stroke in February 2012, and wildly fluctuating blood pressure had her shuttling between hospitals and rehabilitation facilities before she came to Bedford Center a few weeks ago.
"I like the crafts, I like the people," she said.
And then there's Donna McCarty, the sole caretaker of her 69-year-old husband.
Alzheimer's disease has left Frank unable to feed, bathe and dress himself; Bedford Center is her only affordable source of respite care, Donna said.
She'd like to take him every day, but the Brentwood couple's finances only allow for twice-weekly visits.
Nonetheless, McCarty is grateful for the pleasure her husband experiences when he's there.
"He can't remember what he ate, but he'll say, 'I had so much fun. I had a good day,' " she said.
Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.