As the real estate market continues to improve, so do local housing options for retirees.
Just ask Joe Schmieder. He moved in February to GreenFields of Geneva, a new retirement community in the western suburb. Schmieder had lived for 41 years in a house in St. Charles, but decided it was time to move. The house was too big for him, and he was tired of living alone. He picked GreenFields of Geneva because it has different levels of care. Residents have their own apartments, but if they need more help they can move to the assisted living or nursing sections of the property. "If I had health problems, I didn't want to have to move," says Schmieder, a former air traffic controller.
Luckily, Schmieder was able to sell his house. He didn't get as much for the house as he had hoped, but he doesn't regret his decision. "I'm glad I moved," he says, adding that he recently went flying and took aerial photos of GreenFields. "I love it here."
GreenFields of Geneva is one of a number of new retirement projects that have opened recently or are being planned. Located on 26 acres near the Mill Creek subdivision, the new $137 million GreenFields project has 147 apartment homes. The property also has assisted living, nursing and memory care units. About 100 residents have moved in so far.
Sponsored by Friendship Senior Options, a local non-profit group that operates Friendship Village of Schaumburg, GreenFields is a continuing care retirement community. Residents pay an upfront entrance fee, along with a monthly fee. The fee depends on the size of the unit. A portion of the entrance fee is refunded when the unit is resold. The size of the refund depends on the type of contract selected.
GreenFields includes two dining venues, an art studio, media/computer room and library. GreenFields also offers activities and event outings. The property includes 17 miles of walking trails, as well as a fitness center. About 70 residents have already signed up for the fitness center program. All residents get pedometers to track the number of steps they take. "It's a good start especially for those who don't workout," says Judi Donovan, executive director at GreenFields.
More new projects
In the northern suburbs, the Lodge of Northbrook is under construction, and should open next spring. Located just west of Waukegan Road, the project is being built on land owned by The Society of the Divine Word, a Catholic Missionary organization.
The new community has 57 apartment homes for those age 55 or older, who can live independently. About 65 percent of the units have already been reserved, according to the developer Essex Corp. The Omaha-based company also manages retirement projects in St. Charles, Geneva and Morton Grove.
The Lodge will be operated as a non-profit community. Entrance fees range from $85,000 to $607,000. Monthly fees are $889 to $4,415. Units range in size from 716 square feet to 2,230 square feet. The community will also offer activities and transportation as well as amenities such as a sunroom, fitness ceznter and dining room.
In south suburban Orland Park, Dick Cunningham, along with his wife Rosemarie, recently moved into a new apartment at Smith Crossing. Located on Emilie Lane off Orland Parkway, Smith Crossing recently completed a two-year, $37 million expansion project. Two new four-story wings, with 76 independent living apartments, were added to the continuing care community. Other new features include a movie theater, spa, art studio and pub, along with gardens and courtyards.
The Cunninghams have a two-bedroom, two-bath unit that overlooks the pool. "We were at a stage in life where this made more sense," says Dick. Smith Crossing is operated by Smith Senior living, a non-profit organization that also runs Smith Village in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood.
In north suburban Morton Grove, a new four-story assisted living and memory care building recently opened. North Grove Manor is located on Lincoln Avenue and Frontage Road, just off the Eden's Expressway. The building has 84 units.
"Each floor is designed to be its own community," says Ari Weinberger, president of CRL Senior Living Communities, the Chicago-based developer and property manager. Each floor has its own dining room, activity room and living room. Activities and meals are provided. The building recently started an iPad program for residents who can use the device for activities.
Weinberger says his communities are different from other assisted living buildings because the memory care residents are not in a locked wing.
"Our residents are not made to feel they are being shuttled off to a special place," he says.
In mid-November, a new program called Irene's Village will open. Situated on one floor, the program will serve those with dementia who require behavioral management.
"We are serving a need that other communities don't offer or can't handle," says Weinberger.
Private and semi-private rooms are available. Monthly rents for assisted living start at about $3,900. Memory care starts at about $5,100.
CRL operates 17 communities. The company opened a new community called Arbor Ridge in north suburban Highland Park on Nov. 1. The three-story building has 62 units, offering assisted living and memory care services. Both Arbor Ridge and North Grove Manor have an outdoor children's play space to encourage intergenerational activities.
Changes at The Clare
Though it's not a brand new community, The Clare in downtown Chicago is under new management after a high-profile bankruptcy. The $250 million continuing care high-rise project at 55 East Person St. opened in late 2008. The project has 248 luxury independent-living apartments, along with assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care units. The building is now owned and managed by Senior Care Development. Entrance fees have been reduced and now start at $250,000.
Chris Lyon is moving into a 3-bedroom apartment at The Clare with her husband, Art. They are moving from a 3,300 square-foot apartment on Lake Shore Drive.
"We love the location of The Clare. There is no need to drive, we're close to our Northwestern Memorial Hospital doctors and while we can live independently now, we are preparing for the future," says Chris. She adds that the new pricing structure at The Clare was also a big factor. The couple looked at the community years ago and thought they could only afford a two-bedroom unit. But because of the new prices and great incentives, the couple will have a three bedroom unit on the 52nd floor."We're very excited to move in after the holidays," says Chris.