Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier News Editor
Last week The Spires at Berry College, a continuing care retirement community, met its goal in securing 120 deposits on units to house future residents and is now set to break ground this October. As the project progresses, many are excited about the opportunities it will provide its future residents, as well as Berry students and faculty.
A continuing care retirement community provides a variety of housing options, services, amenities and activities geared towards active, independent adults over the age of 55 who are seeking a more vibrant and enriched lifestyle, according to Morgan Lamphere, vice president of marketing for The Spires.
Former Chief of Staff and current liaison between The Spires and Berry, Gary Waters, said the discussion of this community has been in the works for years and is finally coming to fruition to really help this unique group of individuals.
“Every person who is moving into Spires has a really interesting life story,” Waters said. “They are coming here because they still have the zest for life and want to be around a vibrant, dynamic, energetic population.”
Located by Eagle Lake, a half of a mile behind Morgan and Deerfield Halls and a barrier of trees, the gated Spires community will provide a full-service community to residents. These services include a variety of eating, grooming, outdoor activity and healthcare options. Everything from gourmet dining and a full-service spa to memory care and a comprehensive wellness center are available to all residents.
While these services and amenities are great options for residents, Lamphere says future members are typically most excited about the natural opportunities unique to Berry.
“Many of our residents have just been introduced to Berry and are so excited about what a special place it is,” Lamphere said. “They’re really excited to hike and run and bike and just enjoy the beauty of Berry College.”
Residents will also be able to take advantage of mentorship programs and senior scholar programs, and Lamphere said that they are discussing the potential of auditing classes for the community as well.
According to student marketing intern, junior Jeb Blount, future residents are coming from as far as California or Maine to be a part of The Spires community. Lamphere added that only about 20 out of their future 120 residents are Berry alumni or affiliated with Berry in some capacity. The rest come from a variety of backgrounds but share a common interest in pursuing a more active and dynamic lifestyle while continuing to work or participate in programs and hobbies.
“They are eclectic, intelligent, vastly motivated and they just want to take their quiet life to something more exciting,” Blount said.
Lamphere said that this project is the first continuing care retirement community in northwest Georgia and the first to be built on a college campus. Because of this location, The Spires hopes to cultivate a healthy, symbiotic relationship that provides a multitude of benefits for the both residents and Berry members.
“It is in no way meant to be a way to compete with students, but in a way to help mentor and support residents,” Lamphere said.
According to Lamphere and Blount, The Spires hopes to provide growth within the Berry community without compromising either group’s opportunities.
“They want to be extremely involved in all facets of our campus,” Blount said. “However they do not want to be a disruption.”
Lamphere and Waters said the Spires will provide 50 to 100 jobs for students, in a variety of areas such as nursing, landscaping, hospitality management, marketing, physical training and IT.
“That was one of the first reasons that The Spires was thought of,” Lamphere said. “It could be a really wonderful place of employment.”
They both see the Spires as a way to further Berry’s student work program in giving students meaningful practice and experience in their field of study before graduating.
“There are going to be so many interesting scenarios at The Spires,” Waters said. “If you look at this as a creative opportunity to provide students with experiences that they cannot get in a classroom, but still tie back to why they are at Berry, the sky is unlimited.”
Student work at The Spires will also allow on-campus student payroll to allocate some its work to Spires staff.
Aside from student involvement through employment, there are no connections between students and the Spires community, despite past rumors.
“It has a wholly separate governing and financial structure in place,” Waters said. “No student tuition dollars will be applied to The Spires.”
Lamphere states that Berry is leasing the land to The Spires, which is their only economic relationship. All funds come from the organization alone. Additionally, The Spires is not a Berry alumni project, but a nonprofit community funded by a bond issue the organization has raised.
Overall, Waters stated that there is an absolute separation between The Spires and Berry communities, but a mutually beneficial relationship is inevitable.
“I want people to recognize how the Spires is going to enrich Berry and the Rome community,” Waters said.
According to Waters. The mentoring, leadership and coaching opportunities that the residents can provide students is invaluable. In return, the residents will be impacted as well.
“Particularly at a place like Berry where we have such caring students, it’s so deeply meaningful how they are going to help enrich the lives of the Spires residents,” Waters said.
The first residents are planned to move into The Spires in the summer of 2020.