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Residential projects try to stay ahead of senior living trends

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Senior living facilities both currently under construction and on the drawing board in the Midlands reflect key national trends as the assisted living market races to serve a rapidly aging Baby Boomer demographic.

The Blake at Woodcreek Farms, slated for completion in Elgin in December, and Cinnaberry Pointe, a proposed 55-and-older development off Lake Murray Boulevard in Irmo, are two examples of area facilities reaching out to a growing senior population in search of a range of amenities without necessarily having to leave its home community.

Currently under construction, The Blake at Woodcreek Farms is an 88,000-square-foot, 100-unit resort-style development that will feature lakes, walking trails and a golf course. (Rendering/Provided) Mississippi-based Cardinal Ventures Inc. is developing The Blake, an 88,000-square-foot, 100-unit at the entrance to the Woodcreek Farms subdivision, a 2,300-acre resort-style community that features spring-fed lakes, walking trails and a Tom Fazio Golf Course.  The upscale assisted living facility includes resident activities, transportation and restaurant-style dining, along with a 24-hour-a-day registered nurse.

“This has significantly more common areas and amenities than a standard apartment complex, or even a standard senior living complex,” said Harrison Young, vice president of Cardinal Ventures. “We try to encourage a lot of activity. Our residents get out in the community as much as possible. It’s certainly not something where we want our residents just sitting around. (The Blake) is much more of hospitality resort-style offering.”

That aspect, reflected in Blake Management Group’s existing senior living locations in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, mirrors a national trend of more “person-centric” perks, according to a January article on theseniorlist.com.

“Gone are the days of the so-called ‘old folks’ nursing homes where residents lived out their days passively, with little social interaction,” said the article, which noted a rise in assisted living communities designed to appeal to groups of seniors with similar interest and tastes.

The seniorlist.com article pointed to another trend addressed by both The Blake and Cinnaberry Pointe, to be located at the site of the former Silver Fox Tennis Club: aging in place. While some seniors still long for a beach resort or island escape, others prefer to retire closer to home.

“You’ve got children, you’ve got grandchildren, and to just up and move away from where you’ve lived all your life is a major decision,” said Bill Chamblin, director of development for Cinnaberry Pointe developers Connelly Builders. “While that’s an idealistic dream to retire to the beach or the islands, a lot of us have strings attached to where we live.”

Connelly developed Wescott Place, a 48-unit senior community in Columbia on Wescott Road, and began building Indigo Pointe, a 48-unit senior community in Florence, last March. The plans for Cinnaberry Pointe have been submitted to the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority for tax credits. Connelly hopes to receive approval by August.

“With the Baby Boomers starting to hit retirement age, there’s a market for a population like this,” Chamblin said. “This type of housing is really needed. We see an opportunity.”

Blake Management Group is also fond of the S.C. market. The developer is currently building The Blake at Carnes Crossroads in Berkeley County and has put land in Lancaster County under contract.

“The Blake folks see South Carolina as a great market,” said Tom Black, executive vice president at Frampton Construction, general contractor for The Blake facility. “It’s an exciting project. I know people whose families reside in The Blake (communities in other states), and they can’t say enough about it.

“You can erase any preconceived notions that you might have about (assisted living). It is truly a fun, comfortable environment for the residents. To see the interaction of the residents and how they enjoy the activities and the food where they live – it’s really good.”

The Blake at Woodcreek Farms will feature one- and two-bedroom suites, along with studio and one-bedroom units in its memory support facility, focusing on Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

Amenities at The Blake will also address an increasingly tech-savvy senior population by providing a media room, Young said. Assisted living communities are also embracing automation on a larger scale, according to theseniorlist.com, and becoming greener, with an emphasis on air quality, water conservation and renewable energy.

“A lot of communities built in the 1990s are outdated,” Young said. “Functionally, the desires of the residents have changed and evolved over the last 20 years.”

Contact Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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