Senior apartments in Naperville to be 'comfortable, exciting'

It's not assisted living or independent living, but active living for seniors coming in a new development to Naperville, filling what officials say is a gap in housing options for residents as they age.

The idea with Avenida Naperville is to offer apartments for people 62 and older who want like-minded neighbors, upscale amenities and activities focused on five themes of health, said Bob May, managing partner of Avenida Partners LLC. The idea is not to provide all daily meals, medical care or support for basic hygiene.

The idea with Avenida Naperville is to remove features of the typical suburban house that no longer make sense for some in their 60s and 70s, such as a lawn to maintain, a driveway to shovel and an abundance of personal space to keep clean.

Janice Anderson, a DuPage County Board member representing District 5 in Naperville, gets the picture and says it very well could appeal to her in the future. She said she hears often from Baby Boomers who fear they won't be able to find a suitable, smaller place in the town they love.

"We're going to continue to lose our longtime neighbors and community leaders if they don't have a reason to stay here," Anderson said during a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at 504 Commons Road.

In the three years the plan has been in the works, May said it has morphed to include 146 apartment units in nine models from 717 to 1,383 square feet. The building will be three stories tall with garages along West Street, between the new apartments and existing homes in the Century Farms subdivision.

The 196,000-square-foot Avenida building will include a fitness center, yoga studio, pool, club room, theater and art center. The community will provide continental breakfast, scheduled transportation, concierge services and programs under the "Five to Thrive" model, focusing on financial and material security, life activities, physical and functional fitness, cognitive ability and social services.

Part of the process toward approval included working with the Naperville senior task force, which recommends a list of elder-friendly design features, such as no-step showers, wide hallways and levers instead of doorknobs.

"We wanted to make sure these were homes that could be comfortable and exciting for 10 to 12 years for all our residents," May said.

That's not necessarily the case with many homes in Naperville, a community of 54,000 housing units, mainly of the two-story variety.

"What Naperville doesn't have great supply of is housing for those that are looking ahead to the future," Mayor Steve Chirico said. "This is going to provide something we believe is a needed housing source."

May said rents have not yet been set for apartments within the $43 million community, but the leasing office is expected to open next spring. The apartments are projected to welcome residents in early 2020.

Neighbors Cindy and Rick Meerman, whose house backs up to the Avenida site, said the formerly tree-filed property already has undergone an "amazing transformation" during the past month. It now is cleared and flattened, save for one mound of dirt, and concrete footings have been poured for the garages, which will be built first.

Avenida also is near the new Harbor Chase assisted-living and memory care facility and across Mill Street from Nike Sports Complex, where residents can find more recreation options.

Janice Anderson, a DuPage County Board member representing District 5 in Naperville, says the Avenida senior apartment community will help people who don't want the yard work and shoveling and hassles of a house as they reach 62 and older. Courtesy of Avenida Partners LLC
  Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and DuPage County Board member Janice Anderson prepare for a groundbreaking Wednesday morning at the site of the future Avenida Naperville senior apartment community. Marie Wilson/
  Bob May, managing partner of Avenida Partners LLC, a California-based firm that is constructing a 146-unit senior apartment building in Naperville, says the amenities to be offered at the site at 504 Commons Road will be about "action, activity and fun." Marie Wilson/
  Officials from Avenida Partners LLC, the city of Naperville, the Naperville senior task force and the DuPage County Board celebrate the groundbreaking Wednesday of a senior apartment complex on the city's north side. Marie Wilson/
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