Perry Phillips, left, executive director of Masonicare at Mystic, stops to say hello to resident Norm Levine, 99, second from left, sitting, during a memory therapy session in the Argonauta Memory Care assisted-living portion of the new facility Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Mystic. (Tim Martin/The Day)
Published April 22. 2017 6:38PM | Updated April 23. 2017 8:41PM
By Joe Wojtas Day staff writer
Mystic — The new, $45 million Masonicare at Mystic senior living project will celebrate its grand opening from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In advance of the event, Masonicare officials on Thursday offered a tour of the Clara Drive facility, which boasts a total of 179 apartments comprising 81 independent living units, 50 assisted-living apartments and 48 memory-care units.
Among the defining design features of the building is the apparent lack of institutional hallways in favor of wide, interconnected common areas with high ceilings and easy chairs, tables, fireplaces, books, games, puzzles and design elements. There's activity and dining areas, a bar/bistro, a fitness room and a large indoor, heated saltwater pool.
"It's like being at a resort and going out of your room to socialize. I call it a cruise ship that's not moving," said facility Executive Director Perry Phillips during Thursday's tour. "This is the future of senior living."
Phillips and Hilde Sager, Masonicare's vice president of residential services, said the organization incorporated what it has learned with its other senior communities in Wallingford and Newtown into the design at Mystic.
The opening of Masonicare, along with the nearby Stone Ridge retirement community on Jerry Browne Road and the planned development of a geriatric health, research and education campus with a residential and commercial component on the Perkins Farm property, have prompted town officials to bill the Mystic area as a hub for senior services.
The units, which include one-bedrooms units with full kitchens and patios or balconies, and studios with kitchenettes, along with the assisted-living and memory-care units, are rented on a monthly basis. Rent ranges from $3,000 per month for independent units to $5,000 to $6,000 for the assisted-living units, depending on dining options and amenities. The facility has nurses on site and provides transportation to medical appointments. Residents can have cars and pets.
The first residents began moving into the independent apartments last November and Phillips said about half of the units are now rented.
Among the first people to move in was Gladys Positano, who arrived with her small dog from a retirement complex in Montville.
Positano, who has family in Stonington, said she had seen signs for the Masonicare project when it was under construction and inquired about a unit.
"I love it here — the people, the place. There's no worries," she said. "It's just great here."
The assisted-living and memory-care units have just been completed and Phillips said there is a lot of interest in them, as well.
While some of the residents come from the Stonington-Mystic area, Phillips and Sager said they also are coming from the Hartford area, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Sager said that residents drive the activities that are offered to them. On Thursday a program on the history of Hollywood was being offered in the multipurpose room that doubles as a theater, while residents in the memory-care unit listened to a phonograph playing Mitch Miller while they played board games.
A Virginia firm originally proposed an assisted-living project on the site but then decided not to go forward, allowing Masonicare to step in. Sager said Masonicare had been looking for a location in eastern Connecticut.
"When the opportunity presented itself, we were quite interested," she said.
Former First Selectman Ed Haberek then negotiated a deal with Masonicare, a nonprofit organization, that called for the town to waive $136,000 in building permit fees for the project and agree to tax incentives in which Masonicare makes a payment in lieu of taxes equal to 33 percent of what it would pay if it was a for-profit entity.
The facility currently employs 70 people and that is expected to grow to 150.
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