It was Bradford West Gwillimbury council’s strategic planning and commitment to seniors accommodation that caught the attention of Josh Skaist.
The town had been offering a number of financial incentives for seniors accommodation that successfully attracted two retirement residences to the community.
The incentive program had come to an end but it convinced Skaist, of Independent Project Managers and Hillsport Developments Inc., that “this is a town that really wants to take care of its people.”
Interested and seeing a need in the community, Skaist, along with partners like Laurie Johnson, former executive director of the Ontario Retirement Communities Association, put together a proposal for, not a retirement residence, but for senior-friendly apartments that would address the need for independent living options in the community.
The response from council, said Skaist, was “so overwhelmingly receptive, it was amazingly gratifying.” Not only that, but discussions with councillors regarding the history of the community helped the partners come up with a name for their project, located at 558 Holland St. W.: The Middleton.
The site is close to Sideroad 10, traditionally known as Middleton Road.
On Friday, a sod-turning was held to officially launch work on The Middleton, a six-storey building with 119 suites, offering one-bedroom, one-bedroom-plus-den, two-bedroom, and two-bedroom-plus-den options.
“They’re going to be more affordable,” said Johnston – equipped with kitchens, stainless-steel appliances, and an ensuite laundry room.
But it is the shared amenities that will make the project unique. There are plans for a bistro that will provide “all-day casual dining” and a social hub for the residents, for parties and gatherings, “quite spectacular in design” – and a 24-hour seniors' urgency health clinic, open to the public, with “state of the art point-of-care testing and diagnostics,” said Johnston.
“It’s something that Josh and I have been working on for years and years,” she said. “We are going to be doing wrap-around care for them to make sure when they go home they’re not back in Emergency the next night.”
The clinic will involve partnerships with outside health-care providers, including Bayshore medical, StL Diagnostic Imaging, a pharmacy, and an Ontario Telehealth component.
“Seniors should not be in an Emergency Room,” Johnston said. “Seniors should definitely not be in a hallway. Seniors should definitely not be languishing in a hospital bed.”
It’s a model already put in place in a building in Oshawa; Bradford West Gwillimbury will be the second project to have the clinic.
“It doesn’t exist anywhere else. We’re the first in North America to offer critical care for seniors,” Johnston said.
There are also plans to integrate the new building with the adjacent Holland Gardens, a Verve Senior Living retirement home, to create a “real seniors’ hub in Bradford,” she said.
The sod-turning was attended by BWG Mayor Rob Keffer and members of council, many of the partners involved in the project, including consultants and engineers, investors, and Steve Suske of Suske Capital Inc., founder of Chartwell Retirement Residences.
“What’s happening in the market is we have this amazing demographic shift,” said Suske. “The Baby Boomers are coming… We can’t keep up with the demand.”
He noted that research showed a “strong market – especially for what we’re going to build: senior-friendly apartments…. We really understand seniors’ housing.”
“This is a great day for the residents of Bradford,” said Keffer, praising the principals for contacting council and doing their research, and thanking investors “that see the future in Bradford West Gwillimbury, see the future in seniors’ housing.”
Keffer noted council had attracted retirement and assisted-living facilities to town, “but we still needed something else. This certainly fills a niche.”
And he noted the concept of an urgent-care clinic in the building matches the changing face of health care in Ontario, providing an opportunity to “move forward and find efficiencies, to have a continuum of care.”