Eastview welcomes director, first residents

MIDDLEBURY — A different kind of vehicle has finally joined the Mack trucks, cement mixers, excavators and boom lifts that have been omnipresent at the Eastview at Middlebury retirement community construction site off South Street Extension for the better part of a year.
Moving trucks this month have been making their first of what Eastview officials anticipate will be many deliveries for new residents settling into the new development taking shape just south of the Porter Medical Center campus.
Eastview officials on Monday confirmed occupancy of the first five cottages within the retirement community, on Kestral Lane. A total of 11 cottages are expected to be occupied by next spring to complete “phase one” of Eastview’s launch, according to Rob Alberts, president of the project.
The construction site is now a beehive of activity after what had been a multi-year stalemate while Eastview’s Act 250 permit was appealed all the way to the Vermont Supreme Court.
“It’s gratifying to see the actual buildings and beauty of it all, and how it has come together,” Alberts said while taking in the rapidly transforming site.
Alberts was flanked by Craig Johnsen, the newly hired executive director of Eastview. Johnsen said he has worked in the elder care field for around 33 years, most recently as executive director of the Westley Acres retirement community in Des Moines, Iowa. That community serves around 300 seniors.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be here in Middlebury,” Johnsen said. “It is a very active community where there will be an exciting lifestyle for the people who choose to live here.”
Eastview is expected to be completed by late next spring. The finished product is to include 30 cottages for seniors able to live on their own, and an inn that will include 32 independent living apartments; 19 residential care apartments for elders requiring extra assistance; and 18 units for people suffering from memory loss ailments and who require substantial care.
The inn will also feature gathering places for residents to spend time with friends and family, a parlor, dining facilities, a library, auditorium, hair salon, fitness studio, game/media room and a private dining room for special parties.
Once phase one is completed, occupancy will begin (this winter) on phase two — seven new cottages on Deer Meadow Drive.
The third and final phase will launch next spring, with another nine cottages slated for occupancy and the official opening of the inn building in June.
Alberts said 26 of the permitted 30 cottages have been reserved. He added a little more than 70 percent of the Eastview units are now spoken for. That percentage does not include the memory loss units, which will be filled next spring based on a screening of applications, according to Alberts.
Work on Eastview will continue through the winter, with the focus shifting to interior work.
“(Workers) will have the structure up and mostly insulated by the time the bad weather comes,” Alberts said.
Once fully operational, Eastview is expected to employ around 40 people ranging from food service to caregivers, according to Alberts. In the meantime, he said the site has kept as many as 120 workers busy on site during peak construction times.
Jim and Anne Ross moved into Eastview on Oct. 3. They left a 3,300-square-foot home in Cornwall to occupy what they said would be a far more manageable 1,300-square-foot residence at Eastview.
“We are very happy,” Anne Ross said. “It seems good to be relieved of a lot of stuff. We did a lot of culling and passing along of a lot of possessions that we had for years and years but don’t really need any more.”
The Rosses are acquainted with their immediate neighbors and are already friends with some of Eastview’s future residents.
“It’s not like moving to a strange, altogether new space,” Ross said.
Johnsen said he’s looking forward to greeting more residents in the coming months.
“The community has started, and it’s really exciting,” he said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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