Yakov Smirnoff Proposes Turning Branson, Missouri Theater Into Themed Senior Housing

Famed performer and actor Yakov Smirnoff might soon have a hand in the senior living industry.

The comedian known for his “what a country” catchphrase and jokes about the former Soviet Union has proposed building a themed senior living community called “Yakov Towers” on the site of his Branson, Missouri, dinner theater, local television station KY3 reported Wednesday. Love & Laughter, Smirnoff’s LLC, is the current owner of that property.

The current design plans call for a new mixed-use development with 220 units of independent living, 120 units of assisted living, an 80-unit memory care wing, 42 town homes and a 120-unit hotel. Smirnoff is also considering maintaining a small theater in the hotel portion of the property where he and other artists would perform on occasion, according to Nicolas Grimwood, a partner with Fenton & Grimwood, the law firm representing Smirnoff in the project.

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Conceptual renderings shared with SHN show a sprawling development anchored by what appears to be a glass-fronted high-rise in the center. The project also appears to include a rendition of “America’s Heart,” a mural Smirnoff painted after the September 11 terror attacks, and one that was displayed on a skyscraper near the site of Ground Zero in the months after the tragedy.

It’s unclear whether Smirnoff plans to involve a senior housing developer or management company in the project, and Grimwood declined to comment on the matter. Similarly, it’s too early in the process to say how much of Smirnoff’s unique humorous branding will make it into the final product.

The city of Branson must also approve a variance in height restrictions for the project to move forward.

Branson — known throughout the U.S. for its family-friendly stage shows and musical theaters — is a prime location for new senior housing development, Grimwood said.

“With the growing number of retirees moving to the Branson area, the close proximity of Yakov’s property to quality, local health care providers has the potential to make it a very attractive housing option,” Grimwood told Senior Housing News.

Before he left Branson in 2012, Smirnoff was often touted as one of the city’s noteworthy attractions, along with the nearby Silver Dollar City amusement park and musical performers such as Andy Williams and fiddler Shoji Tabuchi.

Smirnoff would not be the first performer with a related senior living brand, if he chooses to go that route. Jimmy Buffett-themed Margaritaville master-planned communities are taking shape in Florida and South Carolina.

Written by Tim Regan

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