An expansion of an Evans retirement community coincides with a growth in Columbia County's senior population.
About 7,000 Columbia County residents were 65 or older in 2000, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Based on 2008 census estimates, that number had risen to more than 10,000.
Within the next 15 years, the Brandon Wilde continuing care retirement community hopes to expand its amenities and residential space as the demand for senior services continues to increase.
"It will essentially double the size of the community in the next 10 to 15 years," said Brandon Wilde president and CEO Richard Kisner.
The first phase of the Brandon Wilde expansion started in February when work on 10 cottage units--- one duplex and eight single homes --- got underway.
Both floor plans for cottages in The Preserve are equipped with double-car garages and designed in the same low-country style as other Brandon Wilde buildings, said sales counselor Richard Swann.
The new cottages, finished with brick and siding exteriors, are about 2,200 square feet and are scheduled to be finished by June.
"All of our units are built on a slab," Swann said. "You can get in and out of those units without any steps."
The next project of phase one will add 30 independent-living apartments with underground parking and a renovated wellness center on the property. No time line has been set as to when work might begin.
A new interior walkway will connect The Preserve apartment units to the west wing of the main building, Swann said.
The new wellness center will increase in size from 9,700 square feet to 31,940 square feet and include a 30-by-60-foot indoor heated swimming pool, open-grill restaurant, expanded computer area and a 1,875-square-foot spa.
The new center, complete with an indoor walking track, also will feature a game room, greenhouse and much larger fitness space.
"This is all their home," Swann said.
The entire five-phase project is estimated to cost about $120 million, Kisner said. The proposed phases will add 69 new cottages, 111 independent-living and 40 assisted-living apartments as well as a new health care center. A potential retail site also could be added in a later phase.
Brandon Wilde is located on 110 acres at the corner of Washington and Owens roads. The accredited retirement community is owned by University Health Care System and houses 425 residents ranging in age from their mid 60s to more than 100.
The current project will mark the first expansion at Brandon Wilde since 1997, when six cottages in the Village section were added, Swann said.
Brandon Wilde, which opened in 1990, added its Village area and an apartment wing in 1994.
"We have existed for many years as the best-kept secret in Augusta," Kisner said. "We are hoping to let people know what a gem Brandon Wilde is to the community. We hope that Brandon Wilde will continue to be that crown jewel."
Brandon Wilde staff is currently looking to fill the cottages under construction and future apartments units.
Those interested can call the retirement community at (866) 239-4533 for details.
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