The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 14, 2012

Arbutus retirement home to expand living offerings

David Hurst
dhurst@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Rick Wilson knows there’s a wave of baby boomers heading toward their golden years who have a different vision for retirement than their parents had.

That’s why Arbutus Park Retirement Community is laying the groundwork to put cottages with two-car garages on a 32-acre site along Parker Road in Richland Township.

“We know the boomers are coming. And we know they want a lot of different choices for how they live,” said Wilson, Arbutus Park’s administrator. “We want to be ready.”

Exact designs still are being finalized. But current plans call for one-story units with attached garages, modern furnishings and porches, he added.

At 1,400 square feet to 1,800 square feet, they will be larger than Arbutus’s existing campus cottages – and would still include amenities such as meal delivery and maintenance.

“The new generation of retirees want more space,” Wilson said.

Arbutus generally offers its cottages to retirees 65 and older for an up-front, lump-sum deposit. Once admitted, residents are offered a seamless transition to nursing care later in life, if needed, officials say.

Plans for the expansion are still early in the “vision” stage, Wilson said.

But Arbutus Park has an option on the property, adjacent to the Estates at Parker Woods. And the township’s planning commission and supervisors have given tentative approval to the group’s subdivision plan.

Wilson said the project will be a multiphase effort that eventually would develop

51 units on the land.

The price tag isn’t set, but he called it a multimillion-dollar project.

Wilson said one benefactor, the Gertrude B. Doerr Foundation, already has pledged funds toward getting the development under way “but we’re going to need to do a major fundraising effort. ... We’re going to need it to pay for the infrastructure.”

Infrastructure and access roads will make up the project’s first phase, he said.

As planned, Parker Road will serve as two access points to the yet-to-be-named independent living community.

Wilson said there is no current construction timetable, although he noted the goal is to get initial phases complete within their five-year subdivision plan window.

“It all depends on funding,” he added.