Assisted living facility breaks ground in Smithville – Press of Atlantic City
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Historic Smithville is set to become more hospitable to its residents with the longest past.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday for Arbor Village, an assisted-living facility to be built adjacent to the quaint shopping center. The new development will be run by JW Living, the assisted-living division of Norwood, Bergen County-based Windsor Healthcare, and will be the first assisted-living facility to be built in the township in almost 20 years.
“From all the projects that we’ve done, this is probably one of the most exciting,” Windsor Senior Vice President Michael Jacobs said at the groundbreaking. “Immediately, I envisioned something over here, some sort of health care campus that can serve really this community and the greater community around.”
Arbor Village will have 130 rooms spread out over its more than 112,700-square-foot facility. The rooms will be specially tailored to provide different levels of care to residents depending on their level of need. Nine units overall will be designated for residents who require minimum care and 81 units will be designated for residents who require standard assisted living services. There also will be two sections of the facility, with 40 units total, for residents who have dementia or other forms of memory loss.
On-site entertainment will include a library, movie theater and activity room. For food, there will be a bistro, dining room, an outdoor kitchen and an “activity kitchen.” And for self-care, the facility will have a fitness area, doctor’s suite, salon and a central courtyard that can be used for exercise. At the center of these amenities will be a large “great room” with stone fireplace, in addition to a rooftop deck. These communal spaces will serve as areas where residents can meet and spend time together.
“We are really mimicking what we see here in historic Smithville, by mirroring the indoor-outdoor space,” Windsor Chief Clinical Officer Afrika Parks said. “You can enjoy the environment no matter what time of season or year it is.”
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Construction is expected to finish in 14 to 15 months.
Windsor has nine other assisted-living facilities across the state. There are two each in Essex, Middlesex and Union counties; and one each in Bergen, Passaic and Somerset counties.
Windsor purchased the property on which Arbor Village will be built from the Towne of Historic Smithville company about two years ago. The 18-acre parcel is divided between Windsor, which owns the eastern two-thirds of the parcel off North Quail Hill Boulevard, and the Towne of Historic Smithville, which owns the western third of the parcel off Route 9.
Township Councilman Anthony Coppola, who is a co-owner of the Towne of Historic Smithville, said he was wary of selling the property to a developer who broke with the historic character of the community. He said he believed Windsor was a good fit for Smithville residents.
“Our initial concern was that something that didn’t fit our profile was going to come in there,” Coppola said. “And then we carefully chose somebody to develop the back two-thirds who shared our passion and our vision and who wanted to embrace the look and feel of Smithville still.”
Jacobs maintained that one of the best amenities Arbor Village would have to offer is its proximity to Smithville. He noted that living in Arbor Village would put one within walking distance of Smithville’s shops and restaurants.
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Having Arbor Village also would ensure longtime residents would not have to move out of Smithville if they required assisted living services.
“What happens if the people that are in Smithville, aging in place, and then they have to leave Smithville in order to get care?” Jacobs said. “So we decided what better place to put a brand new assisted living (facility).”
Mayor Jim Gorman, who attended the groundbreaking, said he believed Arbor Village would benefit the assisted living residents and surrounding businesses.
“It’s going to be a great thing for Galloway,” Gorman said. “It’s going to be an economic engine for the Route 9 corridor.”
Windsor Chief Operating Officer Christopher Metternich said the company also planned to offer at-home nursing services to residents in the local community.
Windsor may also be developing more housing on the site soon. In August 2020, the township Planning Board voted unanimously to authorize construction of eight single-family cottages and an apartment building with 62 market-rate units, as well as the senior-living facility.
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Some Galloway residents expressed alarm at the August 2020 Planning Board meeting over the additional planned developments, fearing they may attract young college students whom older residents would find to be a nuisance. They later asked for a 55-and-older age restriction on the market rate apartments.
Jacobs told The Press of Atlantic City on Monday that the company was reserving two-fifths of the apartment units for older residents. With ground broken for Arbor Village, he said the company may be able to give additional information about the planned apartment building and single-family cottages in 90 to 120 days.
The Planning Board voted at the same August 2020 meeting to authorize the construction of a convenience store, gas station and 80-room hotel on a third of the parcel that Towne of Historic Smithville still owns. Coppola said Monday challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic had created delays, but he was still considering developing a hotel on the property.
Whatever the company’s plans may be, they will be impacted by the pandemic. Over the past two years, COVID-19 outbreaks have devastated nursing homes throughout the state and across the country. Thousands of people have died of COVID-19 in New Jersey nursing homes, making up a large share of total COVID deaths in the state.
Jacobs said spacing and ventilation at Arbor Village would be designed specifically to confront the health care challenges presented by pandemic.
“Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were able to have a lot of time to think, and to research and to really work with our medical professionals on what is needed, what is going to be needed, what we are going to be able to do to keep our patients safe when we open up,” Jacobs said.
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