Lancaster County was recently named the No. 1 place to retire by U.S. News and World Report, and that has helped make the county more popular than ever as a retirement destination.

Due to an aging population, combined with an increase in potential residents, many retirement communities in the county are looking for creative ways to expand their facilities beyond their main campuses.

Moving off-site has several benefits, says Kristen Oleary, vice president — marketing and communications for Luthercare, which operates Luther Acres in Lititz.

The community opened Luther Acres on Pin Oak Drive in March, adding 10 new townhomes on property bordering the southern side of the Luther Acres campus.

“The 10 homes are part of Lititz Reserve, an EGStoltzfus townhome community,” Oleary says. “Those who reside within Luther Acres on Pin Oak Drive receive all the benefits of being part of Lititz Reserve and Luther Acres. The project has created an extension of our Lititz senior living community into the greater community. Residents have a short walk to the quaint shops, restaurants and activity of downtown Lititz, and all of our campus amenities and services are just steps away.”

The one-story townhomes are either 1,515 square feet or 1,480 square feet in size and feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace, 9-foot ceilings, an open kitchen with granite countertops, a two-car garage and more.

“We had immediate interest in this new twist on campus living,” Oleary says, noting that two-bed, two-bath cottages, especially ones with garages, are the top choice for many prospective residents on the main campus.

“Luther Acres on Pin Oak Drive allowed us the opportunity to offer this choice without having to overcrowd the limited space on our existing campus or disrupt any current resident’s day-to-day experience.”

She says the project offers an alternative to living directly on a retirement campus.

“It is an investment for the future, freeing you from the responsibilities and hassles of homeownership, enabling you to do the things you love, while providing you the security and benefits of Luther Acres’ continuum of care,” she explains.

And, the homes meet the needs of today’s seniors, who are wellness-focused and active, she says.

Luthercare is the owner of the new townhomes, and residents enjoy all of the amenities and activities available on the main campus, including access to the wellness center, campus restaurants and transportation services.

Two entrance fee plans are offered, one which requires a lower upfront investment and the other which preserves residents’ assets, she says.

“Residents also pay a monthly service fee, which includes all basic utilities, interior and exterior home maintenance, landscaping services, snow removal, trash removal and more,” she notes.

Currently, only one 1,480-square-foot townhome is available.

Reaching a wider economic audience

Like Luther Acres, Landis Communities has been looking for options for residents beyond its main campus. It has offered off-site housing for residents since 2013, when it opened Steeple View Lofts, and 2015, when Mountain View Terrace opened.

“Steeple View Lofts is Landis Communities first middle market, independent living, rental community, with 36 apartments and currently 45 residents,” says Ed Kaminski, director of Landis Quality Living. “The property was developed by Zamagias Properties as a mixed-use property and Landis Communities has a master lease of the residential units. The building has a 55-plus age designation. The resident council is actively involved in creating activities both on site and out in the community.”

The lofts, at 118 N. Water St., offer independent living apartments without an entry fee and are available for rent.

“Residents can access home care services through Landis at Home if additional support is needed,” Kaminski says. “These apartments are intended to serve the middle-income range.”

Mountain View Terrace, located at 566 Springville Road, New Holland, was created through a partnership between Landis Communities’ affiliate, Welsh Mountain Home, and HDC MidAtlantic. It was funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

“The development has 36 apartments for low- to moderate-income seniors age 62 and over,” Kaminski says. “HDC provides property management as well as resident services to the residents.”

The additional properties allow Landis Communities to reach a wider audience of residents, he says.

“Landis Homes is a great option for some persons, and we have modernized and expanded Landis Homes in the recent years, but we are being very intentional about expanding our housing choices with living options for persons across a much wider group of financial resources and interests,” he says. “Typically, CCRC’s (continuing care retirement communities) serve persons with income in the upper 20% of persons, and we see huge needs for quality housing within the other sections of the population.”

Rent for Steeple View Lofts ranges from $975 to $1,850 per month. Mountain View Terrace rents range from $260 to $787, he says.

Both properties offer benefits to residents, he notes.

“Steeple View Lofts has our full range of home- and community-based services available to residents. It also has the office of the Lancaster Downtowners, part of the national Village to Village network. Lancaster Downtowners is a membership-driven, grassroots community that provides a support network for older people to thrive in their community and age within their home.”

Residents of Steeple View Lofts enjoy living in the city, being able to walk to Central Market or the Fulton and taking an active role in a vibrant community.

“The apartments at Mountain View Terrace are located in an attractive rural setting, newly designed with a large community space, resident services and access to other services,” Kaminski says. “For those with limited income, it provides affordable rental rates.”

And these aren’t likely to be the last options for Landis Communities to expand off its main campus.

“Both communities have substantial waiting lists, so we are actively working on creating new apartment communities with housing choices for low- and middle-income seniors in both urban and suburban areas,” he says.

Reaching a different type of resident

Several projects are in the works at other retirement communities, including Pleasant View Communities, which plans to open The Lofts at Lititz Springs by the end of next year.

“The Lofts at Lititz Springs will be located in the heart of Lititz at 100 Warwick St., which is directly adjacent to the new Wilbur redevelopment project,” says Keith Hoover, vice president of strategy and technology.

The 32-unit complex will offer modern touches with industrial flair and easy access to walking or biking trails as well as the shopping and dining options in Lititz.

“It is minutes from our Manheim campus, and residents here will enjoy the same access to amenities and services as all existing Pleasant View residents do,” Hoover says. “This includes membership in our ‘PV FiT’ fitness center, worry-free maintenance and planned activities and cultural events. They will also be members of our life plan continuum of care, meaning they will have direct access to our in-home care, personal care, memory care, rehab and skilled nursing if needed.”

Additionally, the Lofts will be technologically advanced, he says, adding, “(They) will also be equipped with optional smart home technology that not only allows easy control over lights, locks, appliances, etc., but also will support aging-in-place with technology that can assist with fall detection and other health support. Pleasant View also has a mobile app which can be used for one-touch access to some of the amenities we offer.”

Interest in the Lofts has been high, and the community is currently taking deposits, he says.

The Lofts gives Pleasant View the opportunity to reach a different type of resident, Hoover says, noting that the community is also expanding its services on its main campus with its West Lawn project.

“West Lawn will have similar amenities as the Lofts, but the experience will be different,” he says. “While the Lofts are intended to benefit those more interested in a more ‘urban industrial style’ with walkability to all that the town of Lititz offers, West Lawn is ideal for those wanting countryside views and walkability to the Pleasant View main campus.”

Reaching city-loving seniors

Willow Valley Communities is also in the process of expanding its programs and services off its main campus in Willow Street to downtown Lancaster, with a project in the works at 17 W. Vine St, on the corner of Vine and South Queen streets in the former LNP production site.

Unnamed at this point, the project will be a satellite campus of Willow Valley Communities, says Brian T. Rutter, chief marketing officer.

“We are really excited about this opportunity to reactivate and reenergize a key corner of the city that is currently lying dormant,” he says. “We want to bring it back to life and restore what had been the southern gateway to Lancaster city.”

The project will be a mixed-use, residential building, featuring a tower style.

“We anticipate 150 or so residential units and we’re calling it mixed use, because on street level, there will be publicly accessible venues and amenities, like a restaurant or retail stores,” Rutter says. “In planning this expansion, we want it to be a place that the community feels a part of, too, and that parts are accessible and open to them.”

The satellite campus fulfills a unique need for today’s seniors, Rutter says.

“There is a growing trend in seniors who wish to live in an urban setting or a city environment,” he says. “They are looking for walkability. They want to experience the vibrancy of a city, and Lancaster today is a very exciting place to be.”

All Willow Valley Communities residents are part of a Lifecare contract, which means although they may enter the community in independent living, if enhanced levels of care are needed later, a resident’s monthly fee does not increase. This will apply to residents of the satellite campus as well, Rutter says.

Additionally, residents of the downtown building will have access to all activities and amenities on the main Willow Valley Communities campus.

“We envision a deep connection between the main campus and the satellite campus in Lancaster,” Rutter says. “We plan to increase the frequency of transportation between the campuses and we will provide our residents who currently reside at the main campus of Willow Valley Communities easy access to Lancaster city.”

Along with the residential tower, the project includes renovation of Southern Market across the street, which was purchased by Lancaster Equity, a nonprofit organization, and is being developed with Willow Valley Communities into a culinary hub.

Willow Valley Communities’ main campus is currently developing SouthPointe at Lakes, featuring villa homes and luxury apartments on the southern end of the campus. But, when that project is complete, the community will have used all of its 200-plus acres, so a satellite campus just made sense, Rutter says.

Although the downtown Lancaster project does not have an opening date scheduled yet, Rutter says he anticipates about a two-year construction process once ground is broken.

“We aren’t building a waiting list yet, but if someone is interested, we will gladly take their name and info and we will contact them when we have more information,” he says. “We’re building a growing interest list.