Sun Rising On Newest Sunset Manor

July 11, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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JENISON — Two more approvals and the deal is sealed for Sunset Manor to put up a second campus in Jension to meet the demand from residents for more space.

In 2006, when the second campus opens, residents who have been looking to move into a larger apartment, have additional green space and more of the amenities that make the retirement community feel like a small town, will be more than pleased.

Ground breaking for the 35-acre project, including a nine-acre lake, is scheduled for next year.

The campus — to be located at 44th Street and 18th Avenue —  will also include the tallest building in Jension, a prospect that did not please some residents.

Residents of the area also are worried that with such a large facility, flooding and water run-off might be a source of concern.

As it is, zoning approval for the project is complete. The only outstanding requirements are approvals from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Plans call for the campus to be constructed in two phases. Phase I will include 180 apartments, parking and common areas. Phase II, scheduled for completion in 2006, will include the remaining 102 apartments, including 48 assisted living units,  the remaining parking and completion of outdoor amenities.

“Right now this is a conceptual plan and what was submitted to the committee was conceptual. Right now we are in the design phase,” said John Thorhauer, corporate operations officer for Sunset Association.

“With this development being a life lease project, we have to pre-sell 70 percent of the units. However, with the market demand, this shouldn’t be a problem. Our waiting list kept growing and growing to the point we were having to refer people away, so we need this new facility.”

Sunset Association, the umbrella corporation that owns all of Sunset’s properties including Brookcrest, Sunset Manor and Sunset Village, performed a focus group study earlier this year to determine what residents would seek in a new facility. It found that the predominant concern was for more space.

Rooms in the new development will be 25 percent larger than the existing rooms with the largest apartment slated to run around 1,200 square feet. The majority of the units will offer anywhere from 900 to 1,200 square feet.

“Many of our residents were interested in more square footage with an additional room or two,” said Rich Zandstra, development and marketing director for Sunset Association.

“Some want a bedroom with a den or two bedrooms with a den. They are coming from big houses and to get down to one bedroom is pretty small.”

To add to the attractiveness of large units, the majority of the apartments will offer a view of the nine-acre lake, and those that don’t will have a view of the ample green space that is a part of the new campus.

In addition to apartments on the campus, residents will also have all the amenities of a small town community with the common’s area, which Zandstra said is called Main Street.

Main Street will include a general store, barbershop, beauty shop, pharmacy, bank, wellness center, classrooms, fitness center and pool area, each with its own storefront-style entrance.

“Main Street is really more like you are outside even though you are inside,” Thorhauer said.

“It will be either one and a half or two stories and there will be trees and a fountain and things like that, so as you are walking down there and you need to go to the bank, the bank is a storefront and the barber shop is a storefront,” he added.

“It will make everything readily available so the residents don’t have to go across the street. We will also give them covered parking to minimize the walking.”

Recreational facilities, including a pool, sauna and hot tubs, will be available.

Other facilities will be available to the residents for computer classes, studying current events or honing skills in an art studio or woodworking shop. Residents will be able to take fitness courses and exercise classes, visit a chapel, attend movies, visit an art gallery and play pool whenever they want.

The campus will offer a restaurant, in addition to the dining room, and a banquet room that residents can use for family get-togethers and holiday parties.

Sunset Manor also will have a medical office complete with physician. The staff also plans to bring in specialists on occasion, in podiatry, ophthalmology and so forth.

“One of the unique things we have in our facility— even though the residents are completely independent — we have two nurses to assist residents if they need it,” Zandstra said.

“If they have a health issue or want to talk to a nurse, they have that option 24 hours a day,” the marketing director added.

“They can be there to talk or to help with different needs and questions. And then they arrange things like blood tests so (residents) don’t have to run to a lab. And if they need a series of blood pressure checking, they can do that.

“And then the residents begin to trust them and so if there is a problem — or something that might not come up with the regular physician or they might forget — sometimes they can prevent things just by being around all of the time and observing and listening.”

Zandstra said that beginning in January, the community will offer Sunset Home Skilled Nursing Care, a homecare provider that delivers services off site. The same services will be available to residents at Sunset Manor in their apartments as well.

“The important thing to note, however, is that this is a retirement community, not an old folks’ home. Our residents are busy all of the time,” Zandstra said.

“That is what is great: You can be as busy as you want or as not busy as you want,” he said.

“And that is good to know because this is their home. We work in their home, they don’t live where we work. That is our goal: to make things accessible and enjoyable for the people who live here.”

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