Senior community breaking ground for complex

Carroll Lutheran Village plans new homes, square

April 25, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll Lutheran Village breaks ground today on a $64 million complex designed to attract active seniors who want to live their lives to the fullest.

Wakefield Overlook will include 142 new homes and apartments surrounding a "mission square," a downtown concept for the retirement community that opened in Westminster more than 24 years ago.

"This is designed for the future interest and taste of seniors, and it incorporates senior active adult trends," said Geary K. Milliken, president and chief executive officer of the village. "Attitudes have really changed. This is not the last stop. We are creating a lifestyle and community that encourages residents to live life fully every day. These are creative, able, talented, contributing individuals."

The square, which Milliken calls the cornerstone of the project, will include a 21,000-square-foot wellness center with an indoor swimming pool, fitness and leisure arts areas and classroom space. Hospitality and health care centers, a restaurant and bistro will also sit on the square. The connected buildings will link to the village's existing facilities.

"Even our frailest residents will be able to use the wellness center," said Hermine Saunders, director of church and public relations at the village.

Wakefield Overlook, named for the valley whose skyline it will dominate, will be built on about 40 acres, bringing the village to 90 acres total. At its completion, the project will bring as many as 250 residents to the community that is now home to about 500. It also will add 29 jobs to the village, which is one of the county's largest employers.

The nonprofit organization is the fourth-largest taxpayer in the county, according to Carroll's Department of Economic Development.

"Our community makes a significant tax contribution to the county and the city and is no burden on schools," Milliken said.

Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster director of planning and public works, said the project would have a huge impact on the city's tax revenues and would not strain services the way many new developments do. It also will bring "additional talent to the area," he said.

"We expect these residents will be heavily into volunteerism," said Beyard. "They are middle-to-upper-income people who have had full careers and will be looking for things to do. What more could you ask?"

Architects chose a neo-traditional style with homes reminiscent of older residences in Westminster for the new project. Styles, sizes -- from 1,600 to 2,100 square feet -- and roofs will vary.

"From a planning perspective, this neo-traditional concept is something we really want to see," said Stan Ruchlewicz, administrator of economic development for the city. "Maybe, if developers see it working for seniors, they will be willing to build it for other folks."

The 90 apartments and 52 one-story houses will range in price from $141,000 to $365,000. Buyers, whose average age is 75, have put deposits on about 100 of the planned homes. Milliken expects the complex to be sold out before it is finished in 2006. But the first residents could move in next spring, he said.

Carroll County is becoming increasingly attractive for senior housing development. In South Carroll, Fairhaven Retirement Community is planning a $40 million expansion with about 100 new units. Carroll Vista will soon be under construction on 300 acres in Taneytown. Built by Del Webb and Pulte Homes, the community of 500 homes will focus on active, older adults and include a clubhouse, swimming pools, a golf course, tennis courts, walking trails and a lifestyle director.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for Wakefield Overlook are to begin at 2 p.m. at Carroll Lutheran Village.

Information: 410-848-0090.

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