BECOME – The senior housing complex on Hospital Road that MassDevelopment rolled out a few years ago is now fully functional, partially occupied and filling up quickly.
Construction which began in May 2019 was completed earlier this year.
The new community – aptly named Shirley Meadows – is housed in a unique three-story structure, set back from the road and with direct access to the heart of Devens as well as downtown Shirley. It’s a nice addition to the rural streetscape, surrounded by open spaces, with paved walking paths around the building and ample parking at the back.
Situated on approximately 4 acres that was once the so-called Shirley Housing section of the old Fort Devens, the site lies within the original city and municipal boundaries – police station, police offices, the city, public library – and is within walking distance, on the opposite side of the road.
At the Hospital Road / Front Street intersection, a sidewalk – currently undergoing a major grant-funded renovation – runs in both directions to the Ayer town limit. At the end of town, the sidewalk leads to Main Street, the train station and the Shirley Village business district.
According to Connie Donahue, executive director of the Chelmsford Housing Authority, which manages the property, location is a key part of the whole. The area is “rich in services” and well located, she said, making it ideal for residents – those aged 62 and over – to “age in place”.
She noted, for example, the proximity to health care providers, senior citizen centers and social service agencies and medical facilities such as the Nashoba Valley Medical Center.
Donahue’s assessment is based in part on the experience of other senior housing communities in CHA’s management network, including Chelmsford, Westford and Harvard.
Shirley Meadows’ 58 apartments – 55 one-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units – are rented at “affordable” rates based on income levels ranging from moderate (50% of the region’s median) to low ( 30 %). for the elderly homeless or at risk, according to the application file.
Donahue said there was a lot of interest in the community from the first homes and 17 units were already occupied, with a dozen moves expected by Oct. 1. The first resident moved in on July 29.
The move-in process can be intimidating in the COVID-19 era, she said, but the community is following all CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of its residents and visitors. The common areas are cleaned by an on-site maintenance service. Routine maintenance of individual units is the responsibility of the tenants, but housekeeping services can be consulted as needed.
With a list of candidates on hold, the building’s 58 apartments will likely be rented out by the first of next year, Donahue said.
At an open house last week, Donahue and Christina Andersen, Director of Property Management and Compliance at CHA, greeted scheduled guests and organized tours. They said 35 people registered for the open house and they all showed up.
Activity had calmed down when a reporter from Nashoba Valley Voice arrived. The lobby was empty except for the tour guides and Margaret Leighton, Shirley Meadows’ on-site service coordinator.
A large-screen TV displayed a scrolling video that browsed the building’s hallways, common areas, and apartment interiors. It was telling, but a guided tour was even better.
Anderson led the way along carpeted hallways with apartments on both sides, cream-colored walls, and a tricolor striped rug with a different dominant color on each level.
Since the hallways look alike, the three color combinations identify which floor is, Andersen said, a useful perk for residents with memory problems.
There are two elevators, a common mail room / PO Box and a laundry room on each floor.
The apartments are small, simple, ready to be furnished by the residents, with windows in each room and easy-care imitation wood floors. Bathrooms have modern low-rim showers with grab bars on both sides. Some apartments will be equipped with walk-in showers for residents with disabilities, Andersen said.
The compact kitchen – identical in all units – opens onto the living room. The cupboards have adjustable brackets.
There is also a spacious common room with glass doors leading to an enclosed outdoor terrace with patio tables, chairs and umbrellas. On the other side of the parking lot, raised beds are waiting to be planted.
The common room has a fully equipped kitchen and can be booked for meetings, Andersen said.
At one end of the great hall, Diane Welch had set up a table with presents, a raffle and gifts.
Welch is the Account Manager at Fallon’s Summit Elder Care, operating under a national program called PACE, which has a doctor’s office / treatment room on the first floor of the building.
Without once referring to the detailed information package on the table, Welch outlined a range of services that Fallon offers to participating residents, including medical care, counseling and referrals.
Support services such as home helpers who can help with shopping and personal care, even ethnic cooking, allow people who need “nursing home” care to live at home, she declared.
She said there is a plethora of medical and mental health care offerings available to Fallon plan members aged 55 and over, including adult day care, with five centers across the state. . The closest is in Leominster.
The PACE office was one of the stops during the visit to the Andersen building. When furnished and staffed, residents can receive medical care there, she said, including injections.
For more information on Shirley Meadows, the number to call is 978-256-7425 to reach Christina Andersen.