Good Life

State College retirement community gets first-of-its-kind park

The Village at Penn State now offers residents a new green space, but this is no ordinary park.

According to The Village Executive Director Ellen Corbin, the idea for the Palmer Park came about approximately six years ago. Dave Deluca, director of real estate development for parent organization Liberty Lutheran, had connections to late golf legend Arnold Palmer’s design team.

“He met with them and pitched the idea (of developing the space) and they liked it,” Corbin said. “So the landscape division of Palmer Design worked with us ... to design a space that would be green space, with a little bit of golf.”

There’s a chipping and putting green, bocce court and multi-purpose green for residents to play croquet or corn hole. Residents can use the space to do tai chi or yoga, and there’s also walking paths and gardens.

The new Palmer Park at the Village at Penn State includes a bocce court. Abby Drey

“The idea was, that as people age — and this is from Arnold himself — they might not want to golf 18 holes, but they still want to golf, they want to be part of it. That’s why the putting and chipping green was put in,” Corbin said. “They can feel like they’re golfing but not have to put the energy into 18 holes. So the landscaping and everything around it reminds of you a really nicely landscaped golf course. The idea was to bring people pleasure in enjoying the outdoors and the green space and a way to provide recreation to people in their older years of life.”

The project was the first of its kind for both The Village and the Arnold Palmer Design Company. Already, Corbin says, The Village’s more than 250 residents are thoroughly enjoying the space and its various amenities, following its grand opening on Sept. 17.

“A lot of people walk through the park. That’s probably one of the biggest attractions. ... A lot of people are out there putting on the putting green. Bocce is really popular with our residents. But mainly the walking is the big attraction at this point,” Corbin said.

Residents check out the new walking paths of the Palmer Park at the Village at Penn State during the grand opening on Sept. 17. Abby Drey

Tying in to The Village’s connections to Penn State, the green space boasts little nods to the university throughout. Observant visitors might spot the aptly-named Lion Crossing walkway, the paw prints on the sidewalk or the small Nittany Lion statue at the entrance.

Palmer Park was part of a larger renovation campaign that also began around six years ago.

“We relocated our entrance. We now have a really nice, grand entrance and when you come in through our lobby you can look out the windows and see Beaver Stadium. We have a new casual dining area called Bistro 409 and the 409 is after Joe Paterno’s lifetime wins, so we wanted to add a little flavor of Penn State to our bistro. It’s decorated with all kinds of Penn State memorabilia. We also put a new community room in, which is a large gathering space, like an auditorium-style space for the residents to gather and offer programming,” Corbin said.

The Village also added six new cottages at the back of Palmer Park, relocated its marketing offices and renovated the library.