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Eagle Crest Village offers cozy nest for senior citizens in Southtowns

Friday's official grand opening of the 90-unit Eagle Crest Senior Village in Orchard Park marks a new entry in the mid-priced senior citizen housing market for area residents who want to downsize their lives without leaving their neighborhoods.

Despite some strong, initial community opposition, development company Calamar succeeded in building a $10 million structure along Weiss Avenue off Orchard Park Road. The first residents moved in at the start of this month.

"I'd say by next spring, we'll be full," said Sam Reeder, assistant director of senior services for the Wheatfield-based company.

Monthly rents, including basic cable and heat, range from $865 for a 625-square-foot one-bedroom, to $995 for the two-bedroom unit.

The apartments are designed to appeal to middle-income people 60 and older who don't qualify for subsidized housing and can't afford high-end senior citizen housing.

Eagle Crest is the third senior citizen apartment complex Calamar has opened in the region. The first, the Woodlands, opened in Wheatfield in 2008; its other complex also is in Wheatfield.

"It's quite a bit different from what our first community is," Reeder said.

The new units have washer-dryer connections and are smoke-free, he said.

In response to community opposition, Eagle Crest has two stories instead of three and is more spread out than originally planned, he said.

"I can really appreciate where folks had their concerns before," Reeder said. "They just want to protect their community. In actuality, they were a big benefit to us. They helped us prepare a better senior community."

Citing the demand for more senior citizen housing in the Southtowns, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency approved nearly $1.4 million in tax breaks in 2009 for the apartment building's construction.

The apartments also offer additional a la carte services that help residents stay independent, Calamar officials said.

Marsha Hurd, one of the first residents to move in, lives in a two-bedroom unit with her two cats.

Hurd, 65, said she was grateful that she didn't have to move away from Orchard Park and its conveniences.

Her granddaughter lives in town, and other relatives live only 20 minutes to the south of her, she said.

"I waited for somebody to build a complex like this to live in Orchard Park," she said. "When they had the first meeting here, I was one of the first people to put a deposit down."

Reeder said Calamar has development deals in the works for two more senior citizen housing in region.