More “organic” interactions among all ages is the focus of a new Brandywine Living project next to a high school just north of Washington, D.C.
The community is coming together on part of a 15-acre site owned by Sisters of the Holy Cross and adjacent to Academy of the Holy Cross, an all-girls’ Catholic high school in North Bethesda, Maryland. Mt. Laurel Township, New Jersey-based Brandywine is collaborating on the site with developer EYA, which is planning to build 125 single-family homes and townhomes on another parcel of land on the site’s western portion.
Brandywine’s portion of the project, which is planned on the site’s eastern side, will include a 145-bed assisted living community, amenities and outdoor open space. Washington Business Journal first reported the news Tuesday.
For Brandywine CEO Brenda Bacon, the site’s main draw was its close proximity to the high school, and to EYA’s planned neighborhood. She envisions a day in the future when the community and surrounding homes will serve as a hub and shared living space for people of all ages.
“We want to create organic, unstructured interactions between the communities,” Bacon told Senior Housing News.
While the community will plan programming and other activities that help bring generations together, it will also help create opportunities for young and old to interact. For example, Brandywine residents will be encouraged to visit the school and see a play or mentor students; and students will be encouraged to spend time with older adults in the senior living building.
Beyond that, Brandywine is attempting to create a kind of it-takes-a-village setting, where young and old mingle and learn from one another as part of daily life — something Bacon said has become rarer in America over the last several decades.
“This is where people can really all live and interact on an ad hoc basis,” Bacon said. “Not just for formal events and things like that, but in a real neighborhood.”
For Bacon, the community also carries a personal connection. She attended primary and high school in the Catholic school system in D.C. and Maryland, and felt a familiarity with the site when she first saw it.
Brandywine leaders also spent time touring several EYA developments in nearby Alexandra, Virginia, and liked what they saw.
“We felt a real connection to their commitment to quality and their long history,” Bacon said. “That, connected with Holy Cross High School — it just fit together so well for us.”
Brandywine expects to break ground on the project some time next year. The new community in Maryland represents Brandywine’s third venture into intergenerational senior living, with communities located near Philadelphia and in southern Delaware.
The operator is also preparing to open two new communities in the coming weeks in Princeton, New Jersey; and Summit, New Jersey; bringing its total count to 32.
Brandywine isn’t the only senior living operator trying to create communities with more authentic intergenerational experiences. Ilumin — the senior living nonprofit to be created with the merger of Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries, Liberty Lutheran Services and Garden Spot Communities — is working on a similar urban intergenerational project in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“That’s what we’re envisioning: a place where folks of all ages live together and share life together, and something that looks and feels pretty normal, pretty natural,” CEO Steve Lindsey told SHN last year.