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Robert Olivarez of Arista Recovery LLC talks with residents of Paola about plans to turn the motherhouse on the former Ursuline Sisters campus into a drug rehab facility. The informational meeting took place in August at the Paola Community Center.

PAOLA — After sitting vacant for more than a decade, the Ursuline Sisters campus in Paola got new life in 2021 when it was announced that a company planned to turn it into a drug rehab facility.

Robert Olivarez of Arista Recovery LLC discussed the plans during a couple of public meetings in 2021, one with city officials and another with neighbors and community members.

Olivarez, who lives in Texas but spends multiple days every other week in Paola working on the project, was representing the larger ownership group GMF Capital. That group purchased the entire 36-acre Ursuline campus in the spring for $6.5 million and recently announced plans to turn the motherhouse into a drug rehab facility.

Olivarez said the total investment is closer to $10 million due to all the renovation work taking place at the motherhouse and throughout the grounds.

Olivarez said the facility will focus on medical detoxification and residential treatment. The detoxification typically lasts 3 to 7 days, followed by 18 to 21 days of residential treatment. After that, Olivarez said they typically graduate to outpatient services, which will take place at a new facility in Overland Park.

The drug rehab facility is expected to have a grand opening in early 2022. At full capacity, the facility could provide 130 jobs and treat 80 clients. Due to staffing, though, Olivarez said it will likely be closer to 60 clients at a time.

Plans are in the works to fence the primary facility at the motherhouse, and all of the religious statues on the former Ursuline campus were removed during the renovation.

Olivarez said St. James Academy in Lenexa will be getting most of the religious statues for a walk of saints leading to a grotto, and a new church being built by St. Paul Catholic Church in Olathe next summer will get the altar, stained glass windows and other religious artifacts from the Ursuline chapel.

The three-story brick Ursuline Motherhouse building has been largely unused since 2008, when dwindling numbers and a need for infirmary care prompted the remaining aging nuns to put their 36.5-acre Ursuline campus on the market and merge with another Ursuline community in Maple Mount, Ky.

In 2018, philanthropist Darol Rodrock of the Darol Rodrock Foundation announced plans to purchase the property and turn it into a home for foster children who have aged out of the system. Those plans fell through the following year.

In 2019, the property was purchased by Clareview LLC with reported plans to operate an assisted living facility, but that vision also failed to materialize.

Senior Managing Editor Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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