$25.9 million Calder Woods project nearing completion

Calder Woods is in the final stage of its $25.9 million expansion, which will position the Beaumont senior living community as the largest “Continuum of Living” community east of Houston and west of Lake Charles. The community, owned and managed by Buckner Retirement Services, serves around 300 residents annually, and it will soon have the ability to provide many more seniors with access to its services.

Buckner has added 36 Garden Apartment Homes, new suites in Assisted Living, two cottages that will provide round-the-clock nursing care in a homelike environment, and is finishing up a new state-of-the-art Wellness Center, which will include an indoor pool, exercise equipment, personal trainers and Zumba and water aerobic classes, plus a bistro for leisure dining and socializing. The pool will also feature an ADA accessible ramp with handrails along the side, so residents can just walk into the pool. There are also steps, so they can choose.

“We’ve got exercise equipment that exceeds $100,000 in cost,” said Ben Mazzara, executive director at Calder Woods.

Construction on the project began in May 2016, and completion of the Wellness Center is expected by early summer, when a grand opening will be held.

Buckner has already implemented the cottages concept at its Longview and San Angelo campuses. Residents’ rooms will be private with their own showers and baths, but there will be a common sitting area, living room, and a family dining table.

“There’s a big open kitchen and a big open sitting area,” Mazzara said. “The focus … is to enhance independence in a warm environment for seniors. It’s like you are in your own home as opposed to an institutional setting.”

Dallas construction company Hill & Wilkinson is the contractor for the project, Mazzara said. The architect was D2 architecture, also out of Dallas.

“They used a lot of local subcontractors like Jefferson Electric,” Mazzara said, adding that the project probably created between 75-100 construction jobs.

“This (expansion) has been in the planning stages for 6-7 years,” Mazzara said. “All we have left is the Wellness Center and the remodel of the existing (buildings). Everything has more than exceeded my expectations. From the beginning, our residents have looked forward to the completion of the project, and we can’t wait to show it off to them. With this expansion, we will be able to continue serving seniors and their families for years to come.”

In addition to the construction jobs the project generated, the expansion will also create permanent jobs at Calder Woods.

“Currently we’re running about 100 staff members, and when it’s all said and done, we’ll have about 135,” Mazzara said, “so not only are we meeting the needs of the community and seniors, but we’re also providing jobs for the economy of Beaumont.”

Mazzara said residents have expressed that they are happy to see Buckner invest in the community of Beaumont to meet the needs of its seniors.

For Evelyn Lord, a long-time Calder Woods resident and former Beaumont mayor, the community’s expansion is another symbol of progress and a reminder of the road ahead.

“The completion of the expansion here at Calder Woods is going to be a tremendous plus for the city, especially after the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey,” Lord said. “So much was affected by the storm, and this expansion will give a much needed boost to the local economy. Additionally, it will provide an attractive opportunity for older individuals who lost their homes to have a fresh start.”

Individuals like the Adams — Ronnie, 81, and Sherry, 82 — who lost their Bevil Oaks home, and decided to come to Calder Woods to live in their Garden Apartment Homes instead of rebuilding. Their children, who helped them evacuate to Louisiana, lost their home and vehicles, like so many other residents of Bevil Oaks.

“When I saw the way Harvey looked coming on Interstate 10 from Louisiana, I knew that it was going to be bad,” Sherry said, “but I didn’t know it was going to be quite as bad as it was. We had mold growing from our ceiling fans, probably 3-4 inches hanging down. Our furniture was all piled on top of each other. I lost all my furniture. My refrigerator was on top of my kitchen cabinets.”

Sherry also lost all 15 family photo albums except one, as well as family heirlooms. She was, however, able to rescue 400-500 pieces of her royal family collection.

“When I saw my home, I didn’t want to live there any more,” Sherry said.

 She’s settling into her new home at Calder Woods but for the retired educator, fond memories of their 40 years in Bevil Oaks will always remain.

“I was on City Council for 24 years,” she said. She and her husband Ronnie were also volunteer firefighters in the city.

“I ended up being what I called the water girl. Ronnie drove the truck and I looked after the men when they came out of the building with the apparatus. I had to get it off and see that they had water and a cool rag, that sort of thing,” Sherry said.

Although Sherry will always claim Bevil Oaks, the move to Calder Woods was the right decision, she said.

Sherry and Ronnie and their dog Chloe and mama cat have called their 1,300-square-foot Calder Woods’ Garden Apartment home since November. She was familiar with the senior living community prior to moving in because her cousin is also a resident.

“I’ve visited my cousin here and I knew it was such a beautiful place and had won awards,” she said. “I just thought, ‘Oh, it’s gorgeous there.’ When we saw David (Long) and saw the apartment, we knew this had to be the place.”

Resident Sandy Taylor, retired principal of St. Anne Catholic School, also is excited about the completion of the project. A self-described people person, Taylor is looking forward to meeting all of the new residents and team members who will come to the community.

“It’s thrilling to see everything taking shape around us,” Taylor said. “I’m personally looking forward to meeting everyone who will come into the community and seeing how they add to the wonderful environment. With the addition of the wellness center, I can’t wait to participate in the new activities and programs that will soon be offered. Whether it’s the wellness center, bistro or common areas, there are so many wonderful places to build relationships and thrive in our community. I truly believe this will be a positive change for all of us, and I look forward to welcoming everyone home.”

Calder Woods, a Buckner Retirement Services community, is a nonprofit, faith-based senior living community offering independent living apartments and luxury town homes.

To learn more, call (409) 861-1123.

Photo by Kevin King - Director of Marketing at Calder Woods Senior Living Community David Long said that residents are excited about the $25.9 million expansion at Calder Woods. Long said he hopes the additions and renovations will attract new residents to Calder Woods as well.