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Colonial Flavor, Contemporary Care

May 1, 2010
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Windsormeade of Williamsburg Williamsburg, Virginia

PROJECT SUMMARY

Type of Facility/Setting: Continuing Care Retirement Community

Owner: Virginia United Methodist Homes

Chief Administrator: Chris Henderson

Architecture and Interior Design: FreemanWhite, Inc.

Photography: Warner Photography, Inc.

Resident Capacity: 96 villas, 85 apartments, 14 assisted living units, 12 skilled nursing beds

Total Project Area (sq. ft.): 289,000

Construction Cost: $40,000,000

Cost/sq. ft: $138.41

In the mid-1990s, New Town, a neighborhood linked to Colonial Williamsburg, was created as a New Urbanist development designed to reflect the concept of creating walkable neighborhoods that are architecturally consistent with the region. The area features grocery stores, shopping, restaurants, theaters, and at the heart of it all-WindsorMeade of Williamsburg, a continuing care retirement community.

According to WindsorMeade's owner Virginia United Methodist Homes' CEO Chris Henderson, “We give our residents what they want-a healthy lifestyle that helps them maintain their highest levels of independence and a continued connection to the community at large.” Residents can walk or sit and socialize on pleasantly landscaped grounds that feature flora indigenous to the region. During the site survey, an endangered plant species, the Whorled Pogonia was discovered and 15 acres were set aside to accommodate two nature preserves on the campus.

As they age, these seniors want to stay home and have services brought to them. WindsorMeade got the message and a vibrant community was designed that offers a variety of independent living choices such as villas and apartments, but the community also created a small component of assisted living apartments and licensed healthcare beds. FreemanWhite captured the Williamsburg “feel” in the architecture, interior design, and the fit and finish of the buildings and residents' homes. “This continuity of lifestyle gave us real market appeal,” says Henderson. “The assisted living and healthcare beds are there but,” he points out, “we're not a traditional CCRC.” At WindsorMeade, the health services component is important, but the delivery of services to the apartments and villas is the organization's primary driver.

The campus features 181 independent living residences. One component of the community is Windsor Hall, which includes 85 independent living apartments, 14 assisted living apartments, and 12 healthcare beds. Residences were made as barrier-free as possible. “The doorways are wider, the bathrooms are larger, kitchen spaces are accessible, and so on,” comments Henderson. He adds that the architects did a great job using universal design concepts to make the grounds, apartments, and villas accessible to those with mobility challenges.

“We have a flexible country club dining program. The primary daytime venue is the bistro where all residents and staff can use their dining credits. In evenings, a formal dining room takes reservations, but the same fare is offered to health services residents out of a central kitchen,” explains Henderson. However, because some foods (like a regional favorite-fried oysters) don't travel well, satellite kitchens in the assisted living and health services areas can still provide these special entrees.

The WindsorMeade Community Center provides the wellness component of the campus. “We have a beautiful spa, fitness center, and a fantastic swimming pool that's integral to the New Town neighborhood as a whole, along with dining and social venues,” says Henderson. The Center also has a ballroom set up to accommodate the College of William and Mary's lifelong learning program, the Christopher Wren Society. “Many of our residents were active in this program before moving to WindsorMeade,” he explains. Both the Center and Clubhouse are equipped for teleconferencing and telecommuting.

Not all of WindsorMeade's forward-thinking design is visible to the casual observer. An important element in planning the community was to be able to offer the benefits of technology now and in the future. “We wanted to be as far in front of technology as possible,” states Henderson. To that end, fiberoptic cable was installed throughout the building and the grounds. Henderson wants to be ready for “triple-playing,” (i.e, bundled cable, voice, and data packages) when this capability gets to Williamsburg. Everything runs on that cable system. Nurse call is tied to phones so residents have a quick connection with the community. In the future, WindsorMeade expects that with the wide-area network it has in play, it will eventually be able to do electronic requests for dining programs, maintenance requests, and the like.

While WindsorMeade's residents enjoy the historical feel of their campus, they anticipate the unlimited horizons of the future.

Long-Term Living 2010 May;59(5):40-42

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