The hulking concrete structure can’t be missed by those driving on Benner Pike, and it looms large over the road leading to nearby Fisherman’s Paradise.
Soon, the 10-story, 144-unit building called Graystone Court, just outside Bellefonte, will join the ranks of a number of housing options for seniors in Centre County.
The building project is expected to be finished by the end of summer. When the site opens, it will be home to dozens of residents, all older than 55, an employee said.
It’s the latest in what has become a regional chain of Graystone Court buildings.
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The first was opened in Tyrone in 2000, and since then, almost a dozen others have come online. When it opens, the building outside Bellefonte will be the 12th.
According to the company’s website, Graystone Court was developed in January 2000 to provide services to older adults with moderate incomes and to provide quality, affordable housing to those persons seeking a safe and maintenance-free home.
Rosanna Lewis, who manages a Graystone Court building in Altoona, said the company hopes to have one floor of the Bellefonte location ready by May so tours can be given.
Lewis said that prospective tenants have to travel to Altoona to see what the finished product will look like, and yet the company already has secured 20 leases for the Bellefonte building.
The building in Altoona is home to a wide range of tenants, Lewis said.
“Here, there are a lot of 50-year-olds who work to 90-year-olds who travel and get around,” she said.
Lewis said the Bellefonte building will be similar, and will feature amenities including a pool, hair salon, game room and exercise room. Residents can have pets and, for an extra fee, can have space in one of a number of attached garages.
The Bellefonte site will feature a variety of apartments, from small 617-square-foot efficiency units to two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites measuring 1,767 square feet.
“There have been a lot of people calling,” Lewis said of the building, the first Graystone Court built in Centre County. “I don’t think they understand what Graystone is. Hopefully they tour the building.”
More information can be found on the company’s website at www.graystonecourt.com.
In the Centre Region, one existing retirement community finished an expansion project in 2013, while another planned for growth.
Foxdale Village in State College went through several transformations in summer and fall 2013.
Expansions and renovations include 57 new apartments, 101 private health care rooms, a new bistro and cafe called the Friendship Bistro, a renovated dining room, an expanded wellness center that includes a larger exercise room, new physical and occupational therapy rooms in the wellness center and two indoor greenhouses.
The Village at Penn State, meanwhile, received approval in January to move ahead with plans to add an 8,500-square-foot building for 12 personal care units, an outdoor recreational facility for its members and additional parking.
The recreation area, designed by legendary golfer Arnold Palmer and his company, will feature chipping and putting greens, among other amenities. There will also be walking paths connecting the area to the community.
J.R. Reed, acting director of the Centre County Office of Aging, said the construction of higher-end retirement housing is the trend in the Centre Region.
“The thing about Centre County that’s really interesting is that a lot of Penn State alumni come back and settle in the community,” Reed said.
But developments that cater to that crowd might not be affordable for everyone, Reed said.
He said that affordable housing options for seniors are “very limited” in Centre County.
“Housing is an issue in the area,” Reed said. “There is not a lot of housing for lower income individuals.”
Reed said there are adequate options in the region for moderate income senior housing. The Graystone Court building could bring even more of those options online soon.