By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
More housing options are coming to seniors in Chatham who have mobility needs.
A new 51 unit, three-storey apartment building, called Avalon Independent Senior Living, will be built in the new residential “Sugar Beet” development in Chatham, with all units wheelchair accessible.
Chatham-Kent’s Age Friendly committee got an update on the project from John Gregory, construction manager for Ark Design Build at its recent meeting.
“Aging in place is quite an interesting concept that maybe wasn’t considered by developers and builders in the past,” Gregory said. “You can enter a building at say 55 and you can stay as long as you like but now if your needs or mobility changes, you know it can be really stressful moving. Where are you going to move to in Chatham? There’s nothing available. The market is pretty tight that way.”
Aging in place is a concept whereby individuals have the health and social services needed to independently live in their homes for as long as they are able.
Gregory said they will also be speaking to all the local non-profit organizations to see who would like to utilize the communal space for organized programming, such as the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton-Kent and the Alzheimer’s Society Chatham-Kent.
“We’re just really trying to engage the community and build things that they are interested in,” Gregory said. “If that stuff, such as cognitive testing for example, are available just down stairs, it makes things easier and lowers admission for all these services that are available.”
The new apartments will be for residents aged 55 and over. According to the last census data, approximately 40 per cent of Chatham-Kent’s residents fall within that age category.
Chair of the committee, Karen Herman, welcomed the announcement saying many in Chatham-Kent have been trying to downsize with few options for what’s next.
“We’re excited and we know Chatham-Kent is low in market-value rentals. We know so many older adults who are looking forward to a new opportunity,” she said. “As an age-friendly community, we’re a community with policies, services, buildings and outdoor spaces designed to enable people of all ages to live in a secure environment.”
The property will be located at the end of a cul de sac behind Cascades Casino, by Churchill Park Road, in walking-distance to grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants.
Gregory said the project is still in the design phase, with move-in dates set for Christmas 2021. A survey will be sent out soon to gauge community interest.
“Because we’re in the early design phases, we can see if there’s an interest in say a two bedroom versus one bedroom or one bedroom with a den, and modify things early on,” he said.
The apartment may become affordable housing units depending on if government housing grants become available. For the moment they will remain market-value.
Gregory said he will also ensure laundry machines, dishwashers and pre-wired Internet will be installed in every suite. They plan to later add in more services such as weekly cleaning.
“To me I picture my mother, that you work your whole life and do all these things for the family, and now you have to drag your laundry down the hall and wait all day. We won’t have it,” he said.