Design Decisions: Visionary improvements

Virtually “every area” of the continuing care retirement community was affected by renovations and upgrades.
Virtually “every area” of the continuing care retirement community was affected by renovations and upgrades.

If the top three points of emphasis for real estate are “location, location and location,” The Residence at Cedar Dell certainly meets the criteria. Located in the coastal Massachusetts town of Dartmouth, the campus is close to the waterfront. Sea breezes add to an atmosphere of tranquility.

Yet in order for the facility to enhance the idyllic, picturesque environment, there needed to be greater accessibility, better flow and an upgrade to living areas. As a continuing care retirement community, Cedar Dell tends to memory care, assisted living and independent living residents.

Nestled on 10 acres, the community comprises 61 apartments that are a combination of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments for assisted living residents, and 17 apartments for older adults with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. The community has a partnership with the renowned Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The $1.5 million renovation undertaken by South Coast Improvement Company of Marion, MA, consisted of improvements to all resident units, common areas and corridors, as well as with the construction of a new exterior walkway and a new elevator. 

“We took their designs and made it happen,” says project manager John Alessandrini. “They had some nice finishes — one of the best is changing the location of a door that goes outside so that when you walk through the front door you see everything right through to the courtyard.”

The project also included fresh paint, new carpeting in multiple units, new lighting and flooring throughout offices and common areas, and the installation of a number of other new amenities on the property, including railings, cabinets, ceiling lights and handicapped shower benches.

All apartments were updated with granite countertops, new micro-fridge/freezer/microwave combinations, new walk-in showers, fixtures and a combination of hardwood and carpeting. A pub on the first floor also got a makeover, and a new bistro for lighter fare dining options was installed on the second floor.

On the exterior, new concrete walkways were built for the courtyard along with new fencing for the main facility and an enclosed memory support courtyard as well, Alessandrini says.

“Overall, we affected every area,” he says. “We went about it in a very thoughtful way that was respectful to space, the facility and the residents.”

One of the biggest challenges of the renovation was the construction of the new elevator, which, besides being the first one the firm built, became extremely hampered by New England's “winter for the ages” in 2015. A six-week snow siege in January and February broke all-time records, with February qualifying as the snowiest month in history, at nearly 65 inches.

“No doubt about it, the winter weather was extremely challenging,” Alessandrini says. “The heavy snow caused a lot of delays. If we didn't have the winter we had, the project would've taken four months. Instead, it was eight.”