Residents, village officials and employees gathered in Lombard Wednesday to celebrate Beacon Hill senior living community's 30th anniversary and the groundbreaking for a $15 million expansion.
Executive Director Blaire Goldstein said the project includes a new 28,000-square-foot building that will connect to existing buildings and house a theater with 250 seats and a new dining venue and kitchen, among other features. The project is slated for completion in 2016.
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"We've been in the master planning process since 2012, looking at our campus, figuring out what makes most sense for enhancing the amenities that we can offer to our residents," she said. "We're a bit undersized for the number of residents who live here."
Beacon Hill is home to more than 500 people in independent living and about 100 in the community's nursing facility, Goldstein said.
Sloan Bentley, president and chief executive officer of Beacon Hill's parent company, Lifespace Communities, said incoming residents at senior communities across the country are increasingly looking for life enrichment programs, activities, workout areas, pools and theaters.
"Hospitality-driven services are really an emphasis," she said. "This new building really brings more of those services here. We have a lot of them, but it's going to be expanded."
In addition, the project will include renovations to existing facilities, such as the relocation of the fitness center to the front of the main building, so guests and potential new residents will see that Beacon Hill is "an active, vibrant community," Goldstein said.
The entranceway in the main building at 2400 S. Finley Road also will be opened up so it looks more like "a grand hotel lobby" and the existing dining area will be converted into a space with grab-and-go snacks.
For longtime residents and employees, Beacon Hill truly feels like home.
During an indoor "picnic" after the groundbreaking ceremony, residents sported colorful wigs and boas and laughed together as they took pictures in a photo booth. Others ate popcorn served in yellow, plastic construction hats and listened to a group of women singing barbershop-style songs during lunch.
It was all part of a weeklong celebration for the 30th anniversary of the community, which concludes with a gala this Friday.
"Everything we do here, I think, is wonderful because we involve everybody," said Adelheid Werner, who moved into the community in November 1984, but signed up to live there in 1981.
Resident Service Director Lynn Siler has worked for the community since its doors opened in August 1984.
"Every day is different," she said. "I love interacting with the residents and their families. I feel like I'm making a difference."