New Aegis Community Includes Virtual Ski Lift, Winnebago Simulator

Residents of Aegis Living’s newest community can take a ride in a virtual ski lift, sit in the driver’s seat of a Winnebago or step onto a Chris-Craft boat.

The 89-apartment, $55 million community is located in Mercer Island, Washington, and is inspired by a traditional ski lodge one might find in Lake Placid, New York. The themed community is part of Aegis’ overall approach, to create differentiated senior housing that often reflects the local areas where the buildings are located. It’s a strategy that could become even more important in the coming years, as boomers seek more unique, experience-driven living options.

The Mercer Island community includes a bevy of upscale amenities, such as a 35-foot-wide waterfall, four-story fireplace and a sports club bedecked in Winter Olympic memorabilia. Other amenities include a therapy pool, cinema and planting garden alongside a spa and wellness space with a beauty salon, barber shop, massage therapy and acupuncture.


The community also has several amenities geared toward memory care residents, such as a restored Chris-Craft boat, a room where they can sit in a ski lift chair and watch snowy scenes on a projector screen, and a repurposed Winnebago motor home where they can rekindle nostalgia for road trips gone by.

Monthly rates for residents start at $4,200, with assisted living, memory care and short-term care services available.

While this is Aegis’ 32nd property in the U.S., it’s not the company’s first themed community. Past projects have included unique amenities such as a full-sized gondola inspired by Ravenna, Italy, or multicultural communities where residents can speak Mandarin or Cantonese and play mahjong.


Each community is designed specifically to reflect the surrounding area where it’s located, and in the process appeal to local prospective residents, according to Walter Braun, senior vice president of development at Aegis.

“One of the aspects we’re trying to do is give you a positive experience by just walking into our property, and provide the features that appeal to you,” Braun told Senior Housing News.

That process starts with research into what makes a particular senior living market unique. It includes brainstorming with architects and taking pictures of homes and buildings throughout the area to get a feel for that market’s local character.

For example, Aegis’ latest community — designed by the architects at Ankrom Moisan — references famous people and places in Mercer Island. Three cedar totem poles by artist Steve Jensen stand watch in the lobby, and an onsite “Roanoke” pub gives a nod to the Mercer Island Roanoke Inn and Tavern, a nearby hangout known for its burgers and beers.

“We have to gain the support of the community, and we do it by taking icons out of the community and putting them into our buildings,” Braun said. “We start with the programming aspect first … then we dress up the building with the theme that we have chosen.”

While Mercer Island is the latest themed community from Aegis, it won’t be the last. The company has six others in the works right now, including a mission-style community in San Rafael, California, and a community in the Seattle neighborhood of South Lake Union with nods to the famous rowing team that won a gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

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