By Benjamin Allee, COM 250 Reporter
Edited by Lauren Tenpenny, COM 303 Editor
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. — As future residents of The Spires at Berry College prepare for their nearly completed home, they consider their relationship to Berry students.
Although the soon-to-be continuing care retirement community is not yet complete, future residents are already preparing for their new home at Mount Berry. Retirees Bob and Brenda Layfield have already sold their previous home in Big Canoe, Georgia, and now eagerly await the opening of The Spires from temporary housing in Rome.
“I’m almost so excited I can’t wait,” Layfield said. “But I’ve gotta wait nine months, you know, to go there and start the next chapter in my life.”
For the Layfields, The Spires stood out from other retirement communities for several reasons, one of which was the character of Berry students. Layfield said he knows that these students are the first priority of Berry College, and he hopes he will not intrude on their lives as a Spires resident.
“We respect the fact that Berry is for the Berry students,” Layfield said. “I’m gonna be very mindful of that, if I’m ever on the campus.”
Morgan Lamphere, Vice President of Marketing for The Spires, said that the relationship between Spires residents and Berry College students was a primary concern during the past two years of development.
“We have had meetings with Berry administrators and with our residents to really kind of talk about how this relationship will work,” Lamphere said. “We want to make sure there’s a strong relationship that, again, one hundred percent benefits the students of Berry College, and our residents are completely for that.”
Layfield said that he does not want to interfere with students’ lives but hopes to create a beneficial relationship between residents and students.
“I hope that I would be able to follow them in their career, you know, no matter what it is,” Layfield said. “For them to feel like if they ever had a question or a concern that they would have somebody that they could call on, I would be honored if some of them ever did that.”
The day that the Layfields and others like them have long awaited is drawing closer as construction of The Spires proceeds on schedule and within budget.
The Director of Strategic Property Planning at Berry College, Todd Bradford, said that the project is going well, despite delays due to bad weather between November and February of 2019. When the community opens in the summer of 2020, around 400 people will have worked on the 50 acre site through over 30 different contractors. The completed community will include two apartment buildings and 26 cottages, which could house around 250 people in total.
Out of that 250 person capacity, 138 people have claimed their spots at The Spires already. Lamphere said that around 60% of these residents come from the Rome area, while others come primarily from other parts of Georgia. Although a much larger number was expected, only 14% were previously affiliated with Berry. Lamphere said this shows that The Spires is more of a retirement destination and that residents are excited to call themselves a part of Berry, no matter where they come from.
“They may be Georgia people, they may be Georgia Tech people, they may be Auburn people, but they’re really excited to be a part of this campus, and see Berry as kind of their new home,” Lamphere said. “They now feel a very strong affinity and a strong connection to the school.”
The Spires at Berry College will add one more component to the already community-based atmosphere. The future residents hope to become friendly neighbors to the students as they will soon share the same home on Martha Berry’s 27,000 acre campus.