Bigger kitchens, more social space, formal and informal dining, 60′ lap pool . . .
$40-million upgrade at Medford Leas recognizes a new generation of retirees with new demands.
Posted with Permission from 70and73.com, Neill Borowski | Writer & Editor | © 70and73.com. Mar 8, 2023
Artist’s rendering of the new dining venue at the Medford Leas Continuing Care Retirement Community.
When the landmark Medford Leas retirement community first opened, a 70-year-old resident would have been old enough to have fought in World War I, lived as an adult through the travails of the Great Depression and witnessed the birth of radio and, later, television.
Who populates the 52-year-old community today? Many are aging baby boomers — often used to active outdoor lifestyles, computers, high-speed internet connections and spacious, granite-laden kitchens with the latest in appliances.
Therein laid the challenge for the Quaker-founded Continuing Care Retirement Community off Route 70 in Medford.
Like other retirement centers, it needed to adapt to the demands of a wholly different generation than those it had served before.
Workers building the new Cafe at the Medford Leas Continuing Care Retirement Community. Neill Borowski | © 70and73.com
Medford Leas plans to spend about $40 million to update its facilities. A bond issue for the nonprofit is expected to finance $38 million of the upgrade. A public hearing on the bond, from the National Finance Authority of the state of New Hampshire, is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Medford Municipal Building.
The large project does not include the $3 million to $5 million a year Medford Leas spends to refurbish apartments for residents, and installing expansive kitchens, for example, where smaller, galley-sized kitchens once served.
Pat and Henry Heidler, formerly of Moorestown, in their newly renovated, spacious, kitchen.
“People’s desires have changed a lot,” Medford Leas CEO Jeremy Vickers told 70and73.com in an interview this week. “Everything is changing and at a pretty rapid pace.”
About 300 retirees live on the Medford campus and about 150 dwell on a satellite campus in Lumberton, Vickers said.
The outdoor cooking area being built on the community center’s terrace. Neill Borowski | © 70and73.com
Recreation at Medford Leas is not modeled after cruise ships with cruise directors running activities.
Instead, recreation is driven and run by residents through about 80 different special-interest groups, said Jane Weston, Director of Development and Community Relations. Some are traditional, like birding, but others reflect the new generation, focusing on computers and smartphone technology. Pickleball has grown in popularity on the Medford Leas campus, just as it has become a demand in many suburban towns.
“Fitness itself is much bigger,” Weston, a Lumberton resident, said.
Many of the building improvements are aimed at a new generation of retirees.
If you visited Medford Leas during dinnertime a few decades ago, the dining room would be filled with men in suits and ties and women in dresses. Today’s diner dresses far more casually, reflecting different generational attitudes.
Renovations include a new formal dining room, a private dining room for special celebrations and a new Cafe.
Artist’s rendering of new outdoor terrace at Medford Leas.
During the COVID pandemic, residents picked up their prepared meals in “grab and go” fashion. That continued to be popular after the pandemic, so the dining options allow the “to go” meals for residents’ apartments or common areas outside, where residents can share dinner with friends.
Besides grab-and-go meals, a new, informal Cafe will accommodate diners and offer food items that residents can buy for home.
A community center outdoor terrace will get fire pits surrounded by couches. A new, large barbecue and cooking area dominates one end of the patio.
The length of the swimming pool in the aquatic center is being doubled to 60 feet, reflecting the residents’ desire for physical fitness. The community building also has a fitness center.
The full Medford Leas campus is formally designated as an arboretum, and there are five miles of hiking trails.
Vickers said Medford Leas is one of the largest employers and taxpayers in Medford. It employs about 400 people, including 130 full-time workers.
The CEO, who lives in Medford and has worked at Medford Leas for 12 years, said the mission of Medford Leas has not changed.
“Once you come here, we take care of you for the rest of your life,” he said.
Medford Leas CEO Jeremy Vickers and Jane Weston, Director of Development and Community Relations, in front of posters explaining the renovations for residents. Neill Borowski | © 70and73.com
While the most active residents independently live in apartments, they can get increasing levels of medical care up to a nursing facility. Two physicians and one nurse practitioner are employed full time. The campus also has a memory-care facility.
Vickers said full capacity means 90% to 95% of the apartments are occupied. Moving in takes time, so it does not reach 100%.
Today, about 85% of the apartments, which are studios to three bedrooms, are occupied, he said
The average entrance fee is $300,000 and monthly costs typically are between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on the size of the apartment.
To Learn More About Medford Leas, Call 866-259-3713