Across from Ferd B. Lang Park, at 1829 Old Lemay Ferry Road, is a new construction site for an assisted living center for elderly residents. It may also be the first part of a solution for Arnold’s growing population of retiring seniors.
Crystal City-based developer Arapaho Development LLC will build Watercolor Villas, an energy efficient, 50-unit complex offering two-bedroom residences that should appeal to low-income seniors, stated documents provided by Arnold’s Community Development Department.
The all brick, 850-square-foot residences units will use geothermal technology to heat the buildings. Solar panels will generate a portion of the residences' electricity. All appliances will be energy efficient. And it will cost less than $500 per month to live in one of the residences.
A large number of Arnold’s retired residents live at poverty income level of about $10,300, according to the 2009 ACS survey, said Community Development Director Mary Holden.
The project is located close to groceries, hobby stores and the park.
“Getting a project like this really makes this job feel worthwhile,” Mayor Ron Counts said.
The senior center begins to meet the growing needs of Arnold’s increasing elderly population. About 13.6 percent of the population, or 2,780 people, are age 65 or older, the 2009 American Community Survey said. Another 12.5 percent of the population, or 2,572 people, are between the ages of 55 and 64, the survey said.
The figures show that about 25 percent of Arnold’s population will be retired within the next 10 years. For City Hall, the concern is caring for residents, who have chosen to live in Arnold, and who will need more help living independent lives.
As people age, they lose their hand-eye coordination and their ability to drive, Counts said. Some residents can rely on nearby family for help. Widows and widowers, who never had children, or who lack an extended family, have more obstacles to an independent life, Counts said.
“So how do you care for people who want to live in Arnold,” Counts said during a Chamber of Commerce event in January.
The Arnold City bus service is expected to stop at the center, said Community Development Director Mary Holden.
The center also allows family generations to remain in Arnold, Holden said.
The city has a full-service assisted living center, The Woodlands, which has a nursing staff, Holden said. Arnold lacks centers that are affordable and allow elderly residents to live semi-independent lives without the daily attention of a nurse or medical aide.
The villas will probably be the first among many retirement centers in Arnold, Economic Development Dan Bish said.
“People need a sense of security, commitment and ease of places to go and activities to do,” Bish said.
Arnold is well suited to fit those needs, Bish said.