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Canterbury Woods expands Amherst campus as work continues on Buffalo site

Canterbury Woods has completed a $2.3 million renovation and expansion of its Amherst campus that includes a refurbished swimming pool, a fitness center and an environmentally friendly green roof.

The senior community, sponsored by the Episcopal Church Home & Affiliates, unveiled its new suburban wellness and fitness center this week – the latest physical expansion for the 18-year-old campus.

Designed by Buffalo-based Architectural Resources, the 4,000-square-foot project added more space for fitness equipment and services for the community's 380 residents.

“In creating this space, our singular goal was to create a space where residents could refresh, rejuvenate and reconnect,” said Rob Wallace, Canterbury president and CEO.

Canterbury Woods wrapped up the Amherst project as crews work to complete its new urban facility in Buffalo by early fall. The $41 million Canterbury Woods at Gates Circle is under construction on the site of the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital site on Delaware Avenue.

When complete, the six-story Buffalo building will house 53 independent residents and five assisted living patients, with many of the same features as the suburban site. The Buffalo facility is slated to open by mid-September, with the first residents moving in the first week of October and 30 apartments occupied by the end of the year.

"It'll have just about all the amenities we have here, just on a smaller scale," Wallace said.

The new fitness center in Amherst includes more than a dozen pieces of equipment made by Hur AB, a Finnish company specializing in exercise machines for seniors. Canterbury also refurbished the swimming pool area, creating country club-style locker rooms and adding a new exercise room for fitness classes.

"I've been here six years. It's a perfect choice," said resident Dick Roth, 94, as he pedaled on a virtual countryside using a new bicycle machine.

The former pool locker room was converted into the Renaissance Salon & Spa beauty area, offering manicures, pedicures, facials, massages and hair styling, with four shelves of nail polish and several haircut stations.

The former salon became a classroom for residents. A onetime wood shop room became a game room, with a pool table, a pingpong table and poker tables.

"We're in the real estate business. We're in the hospitality business, and we're in the health care business," said Wallace, who has overseen more than $15 million in renovations during his 10-year tenure at Canterbury. "Like any hotel, you're constantly upgrading, making sure your hotel operations are up to date."

The entrance to the wellness area now features a "feng shui" waterfall, with undulating wave patterns in the wall paneling, ceiling and wood floor to "create a sense of calm," Wallace said.

Built in 1999, the 62-acre Amherst campus includes the main facility with 203 apartments, as well as 40 patio homes and a separate full-service restaurant. There are 300 independent living residents, 48 skilled nursing beds and 32 assisted living beds, with 325 employees.

The Buffalo community will include a cultural arts zone, a library and fireplace, a cafe, entertainment hall, a full bar and entertainment facility on the top floor looking down Chapin Parkway, a wellness area and a classroom. Canterbury also has an agreement with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo to provide Gates Circle residents with access to the JCC's Delaware Avenue pool.

There's still a waiting list with more than 100 names to fill the units in Buffalo, but Wallace said some people are waiting for particular apartments or the right timing before they make their move. As a result, he added, the projected move-in period will stretch over two to three years.

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