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After years of planning and development, the Niagara Lutheran Health System will open the final phase of its $40 million GreenFields retirement campus in Lancaster.

The new phases about to open include 92 independent living apartments and 49 assisted-living units. The campus already includes a 162-bed nursing home which opened in October 1998.

GreenFields is designed around the "age-in-place" concept, allowing a healthy senior to move into an independent apartment and remain on the campus if the resident needs to progress into higher levels of nursing care.

"This has become more popular with seniors and with many family members who are encouraging mom and dad to seek out this type of arrangement," said Nora DeVoe, a geriatric care manager for Coordinated Care, a not-for-profit eldercare service in Buffalo.

GreenFields joins a growing number of senior care projects opened in the last three years as developers rush to provide new options for Western New York's rapidly aging population. About 50 percent of the new apartments and independent living units being opened at GreenFields in the next six weeks are already booked.

Buffalo has the 10th highest percentage of senior citizens among the nation's 103 largest metro areas, according to U.S. Census data. The 85-plus age group is the region's fastest growing population segment.

"I don't think we've reached the saturation point yet for senior housing," said DeVoe, adding that most new facilities fill quickly.

Tennyson Court in Williamsville opened the first of its six 14-suite senior care buildings in July. Ten of the 14 suites in the first building are already leased.

GreenFields is a 52-acre campus on Broadway which borders the Lancaster Country Club and Como Park. The project is sponsored by the Niagara Lutheran Health System and the Lutheran Church Home of Buffalo.

Rents for the independent apartments range from $1,995 a month for a one-bedroom to $2,895 a month for the largest two-bedroom units. A 20-unit wing of the apartment building allows residents with house pets.

Monthly rates for assisted living units, where aides provide assistance with living skills such as eating and dressing, run from $2,695 to $3,195.

Rents include utilities, meals, housekeeping, medication delivery, transportation services and leisure activities.

"One of the major points for us is this continuum of care right on the campus. We're still looking at Western New York as being behind the rest of the country in terms of this type of living arrangement," said Michael J. Maloney, executive director of GreenFields.

The campus will employ about 80 full-time equivalent employees.


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