Already a few years after a multi-pronged expansion, Westminster Canterbury is celebrating the start of the next phase of the project which will increase its residential capacity by almost 25%.
A groundbreaking ceremony last week marked the start of the residential portion of his “Vibrancy!” project, a $200 million expansion of its campus on the northern edge of Richmond.
While the project kicked off in 2019 with the construction of its new Spiritual Enrichment Center which was completed last year, the expansion is now set to kick into high gear with two developments that will add 118 new apartments, bringing the total number of independent living units in the community to 605. .
The new apartments will be split between a new building next to the tower, the nine-story building that anchors the 60-acre campus, and a cluster of four-story buildings that will occupy a 10-acre portion of the former Azalea Mall site. which Westminster Canterbury bought in 2018.
The detached Village apartments will add 76 units and a clubhouse next to the pond at the northeast corner of campus, while the larger Vitality building that will rise next to the tower will include 42 apartments above a new fitness and wellness center.
The Vital Living Center will include new fitness, wellness and aquatic facilities for residents and staff, as well as other resident amenities, including a day spa.
The project is complemented by expanded restaurants and leisure venues that are expected to open before August, and a 400-space parking lot that opened two months ago.
The new apartments and living center are expected to be completed in the summer of 2024. Gilbane and Henderson Construction, in Williamsburg, are the contractors for the project. SFCS, of Roanoke, is the architect.
Other companies in the project include landscape architect HG Design Studio, real estate firm JLL, marketing agency Love & Co., wealth management adviser Clifton Larson Allen and investment bank Ziegler.
Westminster Canterbury CEO John Burns said the expansion is the result of a comprehensive strategic plan and campus master plan which was undertaken in 2015-16. He said the plan mainly focused on whether the additional 10 acres needed for the expansion could come from the adjacent Azalea Mall site, or whether they would need to look elsewhere.
“Fortunately, we were able to acquire the 10 acres immediately adjacent to us and from there we did feasibility work to determine how many units could we successfully absorb in the market and with our existing facilities, and more importantly, what parts of our community needed to be replaced and improved,” Burns said.
He added, “It’s the culmination of a long planning effort that took five years to develop, and now we’re in the middle of it.”
The 10-acre parcel was purchased from Azalea Square Associates LLC for just under $8 million, according to Henrico’s property records. While the 10 acres are located in the county, the rest of the Westminster Canterbury campus straddles the Henrico-Richmond border, with part in the county and part in the city.
Among those who took part in the ceremony last week was Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas, who noted the coordination between the county and Westminster Canterbury to bring the project to fruition.
“It’s the type of project that really makes us feel good to be able to help out,” Vithoulkas said, “because the fastest growing segment of our population is actually those 65 and older.”
In his remarks at the ceremony, Burns called the expansion an “exciting new era” for Westminster Canterbury.
“This $200 million investment ensures that Westminster Canterbury Richmond will remain the leader in retirement homes for at least the next 20 years,” he said.
The new apartments are partly to meet demand and reduce the waiting list at Westminster Canterbury, which Burns says currently has around 1,000 households. Of the 118 new apartments, he said, 113, or 96%, are pre-sold with 10% down payments, with most of those from households on the list.
Entrance fees for Westminster Canterbury start at $500,000 and monthly unit fees start at $4,000. The new one and two bedroom apartments will be approximately 1,000 to 1,700 square feet in size.
Founded in 1971 by the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches, Westminster Canterbury Richmond opened in 1975 and is currently home to 800 residents. The new apartments will bring it to 950 residents, with 650 employees in its workforce.
Burns said his independent living units are currently 94% occupied. Other types of housing include assisted living, memory support, and health care units.
Vibrancy’s expansion follows other improvements Westminster Canterbury has made to its campus in recent years. In 2017, he began a $5 million update to the tower, which received cosmetic work and repairs and a redesigned top floor with new reception, activity and meeting space.