Perhaps you’ve heard the buzz about Carolina Bay, the $52M retirement community coming to Wilmington’s Autumn Hall. Autumn Hall, on Eastwood Road less than 2 miles from Wrightsville Beach, is a mixed-use community that has been in development for the past few years. It started with single-family homes and residential apartments, and will continue– not only with commercial space for restaurants, shops, and offices– but also with eastern North Carolina’s first hybrid continuing care retirement community.
Recently, Four Pillars Law Firm attorney Matt Schrum met with Bill Piper and Jerry Cooper, Directors of Marketing for Liberty Senior Living, to discuss the details of Carolina Bay, a carefully cultivated project with residences for rent or for purchase that will be located on 24 acres within the mixed-use community of Autumn Hall. Marianna Stacy, Community Outreach Educator at Brightmore of Wilmington, was also present.
Carolina Bay at Autumn Hall is a planned continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offering seniors a full continuum of lifestyle choices, including independent living, assisted living, and skilled care. In the world of retirement living, Carolina Bay is one of the first continuing care retirement communities to offer upscale rental properties.
Prior to the project’s commencement, focus groups confirmed that many seniors are more interested in a rental product than in equity. With no endowments or entrance fees, and options to rent or purchase, the community will allow residents greater financial flexibility in managing their assets. This means residents won’t have to invest in long-term healthcare upfront when joining the community, but the option will be there if or when they need it.
Liberty Senior Living is a locally-owned company, and Carolina Bay will be Liberty’s second senior rental complex in Wilmington. It also operates Brightmore of Wilmington on South 41st Street. Additionally, the company has senior housing in Jacksonville and a new nursing rehab building in Matthews, NC called Royal Park. The company is also developing a Brightmore of South Charlotte, a full-service retirement community.
The plans for Carolina Bay include 122 independent apartments, and outpatient rehab facilities. There will also be dedicated floors for secure Alzheimer’s dementia, short-term rehab, and long-term nursing, assisted living, and independent living in the main building.
The concept for the entire community centers around luxury living. As Bill Piper explained, this is “no cookie cutter environment.” The community will offer more than 19 different open floor plans from 700-1,564 square feet for renters and up to 2,000 square feet for property buyers. The homes and apartments will include custom details like granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and wraparound porches.
All residents will have access to safety features like security and concierge service and an emergency call system. Additionally, on-site medical and rehabilitative services are available for residents’ convenience and peace of mind. Other amenities will include: a declining-balance meal card for four different restaurants and dining venues; covered parking; a spa, beauty salon, and fitness center; a billiards room; an indoor pool; and community-based programs in partnership with groups like the Wilmington Symphony and the Osher Life Long Learning Institute at UNCW.
The proximity to the beach and the fact that Autumn Hall is a walkable community with walking and bike trails, add further cache to this luxury retirement living concept. Piper and Cooper confirmed the community will also feature guest apartments and discussions are being held to explore a hotel on the Carolina Bay property.
We will be interested to watch as this community takes shape over the next couple of years. The main building is an 18-20 month building project, scheduled to commence in late fall or early winter. Because Carolina Bay will be in a mixed-use development, we are optimistic about the facility’s potential to integrate into the community at large.
Carolina Bay is currently taking deposits, with nearly 125 “Priority Partners” already in place. A $1,000 fully refundable deposit guarantees Priority Partners priority status on apartment selection and gives them an inside track into the project’s progression with construction updates and “meet your new neighbor” social events. Read more on the Priority Partners program here.
One item of note during our discussion: the age of information technology has definitely been embraced by seniors. More than 95% of the Priority Partners have registered email addresses with Carolina Bay, where WiFi will be a standard amenity for community residents and visitors alike.