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Rose Villa revamps with boomers in mind

The retirement community in Southeast Portland is about to start a major reconstruction


by: CONTRIBUTED - Rose Villas $35 million reconstruction project will include cottages and apartment-style units built around gardens and amenities.

Rose Villa is reinventing itself with baby boomers in mind. The nonprofit continuing-care retirement community on Southeast River Road in Portland is scheduled to break ground in May on a $35 million construction project that, when finished, will look more like small-town Main Street than what many people think of as senior housing, says Rose Villa CEO Vassar Byrd.

“Nobody wants to be in a big building where you’re told what to do,” Byrd says. Especially boomers, she adds — “I’m seeing the first part of that wave showing up at my door.”

At the heart of Rose Villa’s reinvention, 110 apartment units that were built in 1960 — they make up about one-third of the 22-acre campus — will be torn down and replaced with 75 new cottage and apartment-style units. The project also will add several amenities, including a new dining room, library, art rooms, a performing arts center and a wellness center.

Plans for the wellness area include construction of an aquatic center with a pool, Jacuzzi and “lazy river” water feature where exercisers can walk with or against a current, Byrd says.

“You’ll drive into Rose Villa and sense a feel like downtown Lake Oswego,” she says. “When you go past Main Street, the rest of the campus will be single-level attached cottages around gardens. It’s very garden oriented. We’re already an outdoor garden-centric community, but these new neighborhoods will be better. And we will put in new gardens and walking trails.”

The project will be finished by mid-2015, when new residents start moving in, Byrd says.

“This is fun,” she adds with a laugh.

“Boomers want lots of choices. I think they like Rose Villa because we offer a variety. It’s really a drive-your-own-bus kind of a place. Moving into an attached cottage is a lot like the place where you grew up and raised your kids.

“We’re more like a cool country club.”