New senior living project to bring 175 units to Lewes
LEWES — Site work has begun at the Lodge at Historic Lewes, a 223,000-square-foot senior living facility developed through a partnership with Vantage Point Retirement Living Inc. and Ocean Atlantic Companies.
This marks the second venture between the regional senior living developer and the residential and commercial real estate group after the Lodge at Truitt Homestead in Rehoboth Beach opened its doors last year. Once open in 2023, Vantage Point will run the 175-unit facility, which includes 78 independent living, 65 assisted living, and 32 memory care apartments.
The Lodge at Historic Lewes represents a $60 million investment, according to Vantage Point representatives. It is expected that at least 75 employees will be hired for jobs ranging from service positions to nurses.
“We are excited to start marketing the Lodge at Historic Lewes, and continue our partnership with Ocean Atlantic Companies,” Vantage Point Retirement Living Corporate Marketing Director Kate Sammler said. “Ocean Atlantic and the work the Schell brothers do definitely align with our values of providing a quality residential facility and keeping family in mind.”
Founded by Greg and Rita Stevens, Vantage Point Retirement Living is a family-owned and operated organization that focuses on building facilities with amenities to offer more independence for seniors. The company developed and managed facilities in Chester County, Pa., and Salisbury, Md., before it turned its attention to northern Delaware.
In the 1990s, Vantage Point developed the 98-unit Montchanin at Carillon Crossing (now known as Rockland Place) as its first Delaware investment. From there, the company developed Carillion Crossing and eventually opened an assisted living facility and independent care facility The Summit Retirement Community in Hockessin in 2015.
“My parents [the Stevens] started going to Lewes and coastal Delaware for the past 15 years, and they fell in love with it over time. Seniors started flocking there, and there was just the Moorings at Lewes at the time,” Sammler said. “So we started thinking, ‘Why not coastal Delaware?’”
According to the Delaware Population Consortium, Sussex County’s population of 65 and older is projected to reach 87,000 in 2030 — a 65% bump from what it was in 2015. That growing population also caught Ocean Atlantic Companies Chairman and CEO Preston Schell’s attention.
“When people are ready to retire, they often have to move back home rather than southern Delaware because we don’t have the facilities here to support them,” Schell told the Delaware Business Times. “Senior living projects aren’t exactly our specialty, so we wanted a partner that could deliver a high-end project that we’re known for.”
It took a few years, but Schell connected with Vantage Point Retirement Living around 2015 as the company was finishing The Summit.
“It wasn’t until I saw [Summit] I thought, ‘This is it.’ It’s exactly what we wanted in a community, so we signed a joint venture agreement shortly after that,” Schell said.
Compared to the nearby Dutchman’s Harvest, a 140-unit apartment complex developed by Ocean Atlantic Companies, the Lodge has faced relatively few hurdles. The biggest was securing financing for the project once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Ocean Atlantic and Beebe Healthcare, which owned the property, had been under contract for the past two-and-a-half-years. The land sold for $4 million, and was finalized on July 1.
The Lodge at Historic Lewes is currently accepting deposits for prospective tenants, and at least 50 from Delaware but as far south as Florida and as far north as New York have signed up, according to Sammler. Those who sign up may receive discounts on deposits and more.
“I hear from my aunts and uncles about it all the time, asking when it’ll open,” Schell said with a laugh. “People are getting excited.”