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CCRC Spearheads New Pocket-Style Approach to Senior Living

Senior Housing News

June 22nd 2014

As senior living providers offer new and innovative designs to better meet the wants and needs of residents, one Oregon continuing care retirement community is transforming its existing campus into a weaving outdoor walkway that leads to a series of neighborhoods within the larger community.

This "pocket-style" community design is the foundation of a $60 million redevelopment project that is changing the way residents interact with their neighbors at Rose Villa Senior Living, a Portland-based nonprofit CCRC. Instead of walking down a hallway to greet someone, residents will be part of these "pocket neighborhoods" where porches of attached fiveplex and duplex cottages open up onto a shared garden.

"It breaks down the scale of the bigger community - you have your own neighborhood that shares a courtyard and an entry," said Norm Dowty, principal at R&H construction, which is working on the redevelopment along with Myhre Group Architects and RLPS Architects. "By clustering the buildings, it also opens up the central area for a grander landscape and shared space that connects everything."

The pocket neighborhoods - each with their own themed garden - will hold about 40 cottages, with sizes ranging from 813-square-foot one-bedroom homes to 1,552-square-foot two-bedroom/two-bath homes.

A second component of the redevelopment, which has just recently broken ground, involves building a "Main Street" village where the community's main services, as well as additional independent living apartments, will be located. Main Street will be made up of two- and three-story mixed use-style buildings, which will provide ground level amenities, including retail space, cafes, restaurants and a wine bar, among other things, and will have an additional 35 apartments on the upper levels.

Combined, the cottages and the Main Street apartments will house between 75 to 90 residents. Entrance fees will range from $179,000 to $294,000 with monthly fees from $2,395 to $3,025. About 76% of the apartments have been pre-leased.

Some apartments from the original Rose Villa campus remain along the perimeter of the new development and hold about 150 residents. Entrance fees for these existing apartments, which are 100% occupied, range from $48,000 to $150,000 with monthly fees from $1,300 to $2,400.

But the project isn't to increase resident capacity or create a competitive advantage for the CCRC, says Rose Villa CEO Vassar Byrd. The project will simply make the best use of the campus' 22 acres and better reflect Rose Villa's character and residents' preferences.

"When you understand Rose Villa, you understand that people have chosen us because we're not in an enclosed tower building," Byrd says. "People come to Rose Villa because they don't want to live an indoor lifestyle. They want to downsize, not become institutionalized."

And those residents attracted to Rose Villa's redevelopment are younger than before, with an average age of 74, compared to the average age of existing residents, which is 78, Byrd says.

The project will take 22 months to complete, with the new apartments opening in four phases beginning in fall 2015. For those involved, the project has been a long time coming.

"My community has been here for 54 years and it's obvious - the buildings have not been updated in decades," Byrd says. "These buildings were at the end of their lifespans. So since the buildings themselves weren't sacred, it opened up an entirely bigger and better playing field [for the redevelopment]."

Redevelopment discussions started several years ago when Byrd was talking to architect Bob Boileau about creating garden neighborhoods or outdoor rooms. In 2011, the idea for this pocket neighborhood-style community emerged after architect Ross Chapin published a book called "Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small Scale Community in a Large Scale World." This type of community within a community, some say, may spark a bigger trend nationwide.

"I see a tremendous reinventing of all of this," said Boileau, principal at Myhre Group Architects. "I see some senior housing facilities that look like hospitals, but this is more of a village - it's changing the dynamics of how people look at spaces."