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Westminster Village Renovation Plans For September Completion

Westminster Village construction
Izzy Carroll
Westminster Village set a September 2020 end date for phases one and two of its renovation project.

Westminster Village is planning for the completion of its $62 million renovation campaign.

CEO Barb Nathan said the retirement community is on track for completing construction by September 2020. The renovation, in part, is to update the facility to accommodate the expectations of baby boomers.

“When (people) moved into Westminster 40 years ago, they moved from small houses, so one-bedroom apartments were not bad,” Nathan said. “Now, people move out of big houses and so even singles want a two-bedroom place.”

Phase one of the renovation, to be completed next month, involved renovations to common spaces including a wellness center, updates to dining rooms, new gathering spaces, a new library, and more. It also included a two-story addition to the Martin Health Center, Westminster’s skilled care facility.

There was also a major shift from semi-private rooms to private rooms, Nathan explained.

"Wellness rules at Westminster now."

Phase two started in April. The $29 million project adds a new assisted living building and a memory support center. Those updates are expected to open next September.

There is also a potential phase three in the works. Nathan said the market study was just completed and there are plans to look into financials for the project in the coming months. It would allow for new independent living offerings called “hybrids," a cross between townhouses and apartments. The construction would put 10 to 12 units in one building with garages and common spaces.

Along Come The Boomers

Barb Nathan speaks
Credit Izzy Carroll / WGLT
Westminster Village CEO Barb Nathan speaks at a 40th anniversary celebration Nov. 6 in Bloomington.

When Westminster opened in 1979, the facility offered skilled care, but Nathan said earlier versions of the facility hold little in common with present day.

“We have independent living, we have assisted living and skilled care, and in the expansion we’re moving to add memory support as well,” Nathan said.

But the changes aren’t just structural. Nathan said the facility boasts a large calendar of activities for its residents, too.

“Wellness rules at Westminster now. We always joke that staying upright is a good thing, but it helps you in every aspect of your life,” she said. “And wellness for us is wellness by the seven dimensions: so it's not just physical, it's also spiritual, it's vocational. It may not be working, but people still volunteer and want to do that.”

The average age of move-in residents at Westminster is 84. That’s significantly higher than the age of new residents when the facility opened in the late 70s, Nathan said, but people also live longer now than they did 40 years ago.

“For many people, they would be surprised at what 84 looks like,” Nathan admitted. “It doesn't look like one thing. And the intent of Westminster is to meet the needs of every individual helping to facilitate for them to live the life they want to live.”

The boomers are still about a decade away from seriously considering a move into Westminster, Nathan explained, but that doesn’t stop the facility from adjusting to serve their needs now.

"The expectations of our current residents and future residents is changing a lot. We want variety."

After all, baby boomers are already at Westminster, she said, visiting and checking out the facility with their parents.

“The expectations of our current residents and future residents is changing a lot. We want variety.”

And, she said, baby boomers are much more willing to give up aspects of their life sooner than older generations. For example, boomers are much less stressed about giving up self-reliance tasks like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry.

Nathan said that’s why the facility has embraced the switch towards more specialty care by constructing more dining rooms with more food options, unique social gathering areas, and newly renovated apartments.

“Give them more options to bring their personality into it, because baby boomers are not cookie cutter,” she said. “So it’ll be interesting to see, will there be a time where that average age at moving actually begins to lower.”

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