By Natalie Simms
With its stable economy, strong industry-base and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, Rome and Floyd County has long been touted as a “live, work and play” community. You can now add “retire” to that list.
Retirees are an important target market for Rome Floyd Chamber of Commerce officials. Because of the growing number of retirement opportunities senior living, assisted living and nursing care facilities in the community, the chamber created a website for online retirement searches. They also reach out to retirees via periodicals and advertisements.
The selling points include the cost of living, ample healthcare options, recreation and arts, and just being close enough to but far away enough from Atlanta and Chattanooga. Please see www.romeretirement.com for more.
And one of the new options on that website — with an estimated build-out value between $135 million to $145 million — is the Spires at Berry College development, adding a whole new level of attraction.
“The retirement sector is important to us…the chamber and community. Many retirees bring wisdom, experience, have disposable income, volunteer at charities and nonprofit organizations and more,” says Al Hodge, Rome Floyd Chamber president and CEO.
“The Spires is very important as it adds new, upscale housing, it will attract newcomers, and some will be Berry College alumni who have lived successfully in other places and our community gets to welcome them back to Rome.”
This summer, Greenbrier Development hopes to break ground on The Spires, Rome’s first continuing care retirement community, consisting of 295 living units and common areas totaling 403,200 square feet. There will be 188 independent living units including free-standing cottages and apartments; plus an additional 107 health care suites for assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care.
“The Spires is a continuing-care retirement community. Residents move-in as independent as possible into either an apartment or cottage. We will have 188 residences, each between 1,000 and 2,500 square feet. We have a variety of contract options. All residences will be fully equipped and residents will be able to select the finishes, design themselves,” says Morgan Lamphere, vice president of Marketing with Greenbrier.
“We will have an on-site Health Center for routine clinic visits and rehab. In the continuum of care, we will have assisted living, as well as a memory care area, and then skilled nursing should the need for those services arise for our residents.”
Berry has had the idea for a retirement community on campus for a number of years but with the 2008 recession, the market is now back at a level to support the project.
“Once the market returned, they reached out to Greenbrier as we have a long history of success with communities like The Spires in how to construct them and oversee development. We started presales at the end of 2016 and opened the Broad Street center in 2017 and we’ve had a very positive experience overall,” she says.
The Spires will overlook 88-acre Eagle Lake on Berry’s campus with unobstructed views of Lavender Mountain making it a picturesque retirement area. It will rise off the intersection of the Bypass at Redmond Road. It will feature a number of amenities for its residents in a clubhouse with a dining area, fitness center with classes and an indoor pool.
Total construction costs are estimated at $73.4 million with final estimated value at buildout expected between $135 million to $145 million to include actual construction, finance, design and start up, says Lamphere. The scope of the project makes it one of the largest new developments in Rome and Floyd County in a number of years. The Lowe’s regional distribution center in Shannon, for example, has a construction price of $125 million when announced in 2011.
“We have to have 70 percent of our presale deposits to start the vertical construction and we are about halfway there. We hope to achieve that by the summer and be able to start construction later this year. We plan to move in our first residences in 2020,” says Lamphere.
“The community is open to all ages 55 and older. They do need to be able to live independently and be financially stable. There are a lot of people outside of the Berry community interested in the community. Berry is a wonderful, beautiful place to live and lots of folks still love the campus atmosphere, love the campus and being around the students.”
The Spires requires a six-figure investment up front, which much of that refunded to the residents’ heirs. There also are monthly occupancy fees that cover all home costs, including utilities; 30 meals a month; and various amenities. In addition to basically care-free living, The Spires offers the assets of Berry College including classes, the arts, sports and the outdoors. The development will be connected to the campus by a new road as well as have its own entrance and exit.
Among the new residents waiting to move into The Spires is Suzi Edwards.
“I am looking forward to downsizing and being free of house maintenance. I have always wanted to live on a lake and this is my opportunity. I anticipate being there for a long time. I also love the idea of dinners being a part of the amenities as I don’t enjoy cooking any more, a possible café, housekeeping services and being able to enjoy life a little more without having to worry as much,” she says.
“I am already involved in the Rome community and plan to continue those activities. From the very moment I heard of this, it seems that God has been with me in everything moving towards this in my future. I can hardly wait for it to be ready to move into.”
Dr. Joel Todino and his wife, Lynn, are also looking forward to living in the new community. “We currently have a 110-acre farm and three houses, so we’ve decided to downside and The Spires looks like a good deal for us,” he says. “We are planning to move into a cottage and then we can move to personal care and then to nursing…it’s a logical progression that seems like a good place for us since we have long-term care insurance.”