A local nonprofit organization is seeking to expand housing options for seniors with a 70-unit, three-story residential retirement building on Oenoke Ridge Road that includes access to a range of healthcare services.
The one- and two-bedroom building, to be called ‘Oenoke Ridge,’ would be located in an area where Waveny LifeCare Network already owns property, between the New Canaan Historical Society and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church campuses, according to the organization’s president and CEO, Russell Barksdale Jr. Waveny has a .88-acre property at 65 Oenoke Ridge Road, owned by the Historical Society, under contract pending approval for its project by the Planning & Zoning Commission, Barksdale said.
The 140,000-square-foot Oenoke Ridge would operate under a “buy-in” model as a new, higher-end piece of New Canaan’s “Continuing Care Retirement Community” or ‘CCRC.’ Many seniors who want to remain in New Canaan no longer want to or able to care for large houses and properties, yet The Inn independent living complex isn’t right for them and while they want access to medical care, they’re far too active for the skilled nursing facility on Farm Road, Barksdale said.
“It is giving them a beautiful condo that is spacious and allows them to truly age in place and have services provided to them as their needs change,” Barksdale told NewCanaanite.com in an interview.
At Oenoke Ridge, residents would pay a lump sum of $750,000 or $850,000, depending on whether they’re seeking a one- or two-bedroom unit, in addition to an all-inclusive monthly fee of $4,500. The monthly payment would go toward fees for services such as water, sewer, parking, insurance, power, maintenance and one meal per day that residents would self-select, Barksdale said. At the same time, as their healthcare needs and levels of care change, the residents would draw down on the initial lump payment held in escrow, for medical services such as memory care, he said.
The living quarters each will include full kitchens and the two-bedroom units will be 1,500 square feet, “so it’s very luxurious and open,” Barksdale said.
The building will include 96 underground parking spaces “and we designed it to look like a very large home, a mansion with extensions off of the mansion in keeping with the very large homes” in the neighborhood, Barksdale said.
The Oenoke will include a gym, 120-seat theater and indoor swimming pool with sliding glass doors that would open in the summer, as well as a bistro-bar-restaurant, meeting rooms and communal spaces, he said.
It will cost an estimated $46 million to build and Waveny has retained Greenwood Village, Col.-based Lantz-Boggio Architects for the project and has held focus groups with prospective residents (as well as scheduling information sessions with local stakeholders), Barksdale said.
Asked how Oenoke Ridge would complement, rather than compete with, existing local businesses, Barksdale said, “One of the things that came out of the focus groups is that every individual that came that was interested wanted to be closer to the downtown. So while we provide one meal a day, our residents wanted to walk downtown to shop downtown and go to restaurants. They do not want to be confined to just one residence. They want to do their banking, shopping, dine, walk to the train—that’s a requirement from them.”
New Canaan land use attorney David Rucci of Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC is presenting Oenoke Ridge to P&Z next week, and a formal application will follow. Asked what that application would involve, Rucci said it likely would include proposed new regulations for CCRC’s in New Canaan, which the Zoning Regulations currently do not address. The project itself also would require formal P&Z approval, likely in the form of a permit, he said.
Barksdale noted that locals have tried for some 20 years to figure out a way to bring additional senior housing to New Canaan. He and Waveny LifeCare Network have been looking at ways to expand the options here since last year.
Asked how monies generated through resident fees would figure into Waveny LifeCare Network’s mission and several housing and medical facilities and programs, Barksdale noted that the organization now does about $5 million annually in charity and uncompensated care. Waveny currently has an approximately 2.5-year waitlist for people who have spent down their money at other facilities, he said.
“We need to always consider how to fund uncompensated care every year,” Barksdale said.
Asked how the feedback has been so far from stakeholders and prospective residents, Barksdale said, “It has been great.”
“People know of individuals and their friends who had to leave New Canaan because of the lack of senior housing,” he said. Of those who have attended the focus groups, he said, “The vast majority of them want to stay in New Canaan and they don’t want to have to go somewhere else to find a residence, so it [the reception for Oenoke Ridge] has been extremely warm and they have been able to talk about the façade, how they want building to look, how they want the apartment to look inside, whether the kitchen is too large or small, everything down to bathroom placement. This is a grassroots project, it hasn’t been marketed at all and we already have a waiting list.”