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Check out how a Portland senior living community renovated for the Baby Boomers

Portland Business Journal

September 3rd 2015

Myhre Group Architects is the Design Architect on the Rose Villa project."

When Rose Villa was built 57 years ago on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River, it probably seemed like the latest and greatest example of senior living.

After several generations came and went, the community began to show its age. The wagon wheel chandeliers in the lobby were looking pretty dated.

"The whole campus was from that era," said CEO Vassar Byrd. "People would drive by and not get out of their cars. The infrastructure was rotting beneath your feet. It looked terrible. For curb appeal, we had to do something about the buildings and think about what we want to look like for the future."

Now the 22-acre senior community adjacent to Milwaukie, is in the midst of an extensive, $40 million makeover, designed to both freshen the aesthetics and better serve today's active seniors and retiring Baby Boomers.

The goal is to encourage an active lifestyle and allow residents to remain independent for as long as possible. But there are also support services in place, including a surrey, to help them if they've had a hip replacement or other setback.

"If we can create an environment that invisibly supports people as they get older, they stay in driver's seat longer," Byrd said. "But the support they need that they didn't know they need is all there."

The new units are almost sold out. The first six residents moved in this week, but the full redevelopment won't be completed until May. Still under construction is the new "Main Street," complete with street lights and hanging flower baskets.

Tiers of cottages are sprouting on the slope facing the river and West Hills. A wellness center, housing a pool, yoga studio and gym, sits just off Main Street, which is lined with three-story residential buildings.

A hundred apartments were removed and replaced with only 75, for a total of 205 when the project is complete, down from a peak of 250. The dining room, the Harvest Grill, was expanded and the kitchen remodeled.

Community spaces grew. A dog park was created last May. There's also a long-standing community garden encompassing two acres. Residents even run their own Farmer's Market.

"Next to dogs, gardening is a huge deal," Byrd said.

Byrd said the price points in Rose Villa, which sits in unincorporated Clackamas County, fall around 75 percent of the average Milwaukie home price. The entrance fee, which includes a lifetime lease and access to services, is around $300,000. The average monthly fee is $2,200.

"It's affordable for the middle class," Byrd said.