Riverwoods Eagle Nest Project of Distinction 



Nestled along the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin Dells is the new Riverwood Eagles Nest Assisted Living and Memory Care facility. Opened in December 2020, the facility has a total of 52 units: 30 assisted living apartments and 22 memory care suites for people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The natural beauty of the property is enjoyed by not only the residents and their families but also the community through the use of wooded areas, walking/golf cart paths, and riverfront overlooks. An abundance of wildlife can be observed as well as the eagles that nest on the property high in the tall pines. Because of the proximity of the nests to the facility, Holtz Builders was required to submit daily reports to the Department of Natural Resources so they could monitor the well-being of the eagles, and eventually their eaglets.

The Riverwood team’s expertise and experience promise to deliver the very best in healthcare and community services for all residents and their families. A unique addition to the memory care building was a Snoezelen room (controlled multisensory environment). This therapy room designed for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, dementia or brain injury consists of placing the person in a soothing and stimulating environment. Other services include housekeeping, cooking, medication management, onsite wellness nurses, 24/7 emergency response system, fitness and personal wellness goals. Hair stylists, barbers, manicurists, and massage specialists are all on call.

Community Living Solutions (CLS), the architect, created preliminary site plans that were revised several times over the years. For a year prior to construction, Holtz Builders, the architect, the MEP subcontractors (Plumbing – Zimmerman Plumbing; HVAC – Muchow & South Central Heating & Cooling; Electrical – United Electric) met weekly to review design coordination with the Owners.


Riverwood Interior

Underground parking was originally proposed for the building, but a subsurface exploration report based on soil borings showed that deeper clays were very soft and had an unconfined compressive strength. The decision to eliminate the lower level due to the expected site improvement costs from the poor soils meant a new location for the mechanical room needed to be determined. Once again, the plans were revised to reconfigure the new building layout. Even with the cost savings of not building the lower level, the budget still exceeded the Owner’s expectations. Holtz Builders reviewed value engineering options and was able to decrease the costs substantially.

Working with Wisconsin Dells Power and Light and Alliant Energy, Riverwood installed LED Smart Lighting, occupancy sensors with in-place switches, and in-floor heat throughout the entire building, qualifying for more than $10,000 in energy incentives. These energy-efficient, lifetime bulbs have their own chip that needs to be programmed to its light fixture. They can be controlled by a remote to turn on/off, adjust brightness, color or tone of the bulbs, commonly referred to as mood lighting. Riverwood was able to finance energy improvements though PACE WI, which allows property owners to pay back the costs over a specified period through assessments.

Waterman Log Crafters, a local business, was contracted to refurbish the trees that were cleared from the worksite. The logs would be used on the front entrance exterior walls as decorative log façade and the columns and beams of main entrance porte-cochere, as well as tabletops and furniture. Befitting of the “Up-North” design and cozy feel of the facility, river rock was used throughout the buildings.

Very early in the construction phase of Riverwood, the Covid-19 pandemic was prevalent in the United States. Holtz Builders, in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, established company policies and guidelines to be followed by all employees and were modified as the pandemic progressed. The effects of the pandemic changed many things about day-to-day operations. Many employees worked from home, weekly in-person meetings were replaced by ZOOM meetings, which required technology training for most. Quarantine created almost daily staff shortages for contractor employees and subcontractors. Longer lead times for materials, along with equipment shortages meant schedule adjustments had to be made so work in other areas could proceed until materials arrived or staff was back onsite. Eighteen days of rain and wind conditions throughout the project, caused crews to leave early or work inside scopes. Through it all, Holtz Builders did not have any layoffs and maintained forty hour work weeks.

The building design was divided into three main sections: assisted living main, memory care center, and assisted living south. This allowed for continual flow of construction. Once framing was completed in one section, that crew would move to the next section while other crews fell in behind them. For this sequence of phasing the building to work in this round-robin fashion, construction started in the assisted living main section wherevmost of the work would be done in several different scopes; followed by the memory care section and then assisted living south.

Summers in Wisconsin can get pretty hot and the summer of 2020 was no exception. As work progressed through June, July and August, high temperatures combined with high humidity pushed the heat indexes into the 90’s and even low 100’s on occasion. Drywall installers and painters were unable to perform their work under those conditions. The answer? After the contractors sealed up the open areas of the building to minimize the heat & humidity coming in, two very large portable AC units were rented to condition the air so that sub-contractors could move forward with their scopes.

Despite all of the situations beyond anyone’s control, such as the weather, Covid-19 Pandemic, excessive lead times and material shortages, the Riverwood project came together with minimal hiccups in part due to extensive collaboration and planning prior to construction and ongoing communication between everyone committed to seeing this project through to the end. After so many years in development, the excitement of the vision becoming a reality for the design team, the Owners, Holtz Builders, subcontractors, the community and many others, was very gratifying. After everything was said and done, Holtz Builders delivered a beautiful facility for the residents & their families, staff and the community to enjoy for a long time – and it was done ahead of schedule and under budget.