TORRINGTON – Evergreen Plaza Assisted Living is set to open in mid-September. Although construction started last year, Goshen Care Center Joint Powers Board Chairman Paul Novak said it is a project four years in the making.
Novak’s plan for an assisted living center started when he and the rest of the Joint Powers Board realized many of the town’s senior citizens were going out of the county and even out of the state for assisted living. The new assisted living center is meant to cover the gap in Goshen County’s housing for seniors, or as Novak calls it, “the four levels of senior care.”
“When we open this up in Goshen County we’ll have every level of senior care,” Novak said.
Evergreen Plaza Assisted Living will go along with Evergreen Court, the care center, and the Alzheimer’s unit. It will also be physically connected to the Evergreen Court as part of the land given by the city of Torrington.
“We are kind of making an Evergreen community,” Novak said.
According to Novak, everything done at Evergreen Plaza is to help the residents transition from their old neighborhood to a new one.
Evergreen Plaza has 30 rooms with three different sizes: studio, standard, and deluxe. Single and double occupancy options are available as Novak expects to have about 50 residents to fill all the rooms.
The building has eight entrances with benches at each one, and a parking lot next to the main entrance. Inside is a dining area with a kitchen where residents will have a variety of options and three meals a day. Residents from the plaza and court will have their meals in the dining hall with 50 tables available.
To the side of the dining hall is what Novak calls the “great room” which consists of a TV and a fireplace.
“If the families come, they’ll have a place to meet. Before lunch or before dinner they can meet. It’s just kind of a neighborhood gathering point,” Novak said.
A patio area which will feature chairs and a grill sits just outside of the great room as another area for residents and their families to meet.
There is also a room where residents can watch a movie and flip the chairs around to have a chapel.
The community feel stretches into Evergreen Court with a long hallway conjoining the two facilities. However, it is not just a regular hallway.
“This is our Main Street,” Novak said.
The resident’s rooms add to the community feel as it is broken up into four “neighborhoods” differentiated by colors. The yellow and green neighborhoods are directly across from each other, and the red and blue neighborhoods are further down the hallway. One long hallway goes from the dining hall to the back of the neighborhoods with railings on each side. There are also multiple stations for residents to stop at and take a break or mingle.
“They might just need a place to stop for refreshments or this is as far as I want to walk,” Novak said.
The same goes for the walking area around the outside of the building. It is one of the many ways to keep residents active including an activity director to give residents more things to do.
“Our goal is if we have 75 people in (Evergreen Plaza and Court), then we have to keep them busy,” Novak said.
Along with physical activities, there will also be puzzles and other things to help cognitively as well.
The long hallways provide for plenty of space to put photos and paintings from residents of Goshen County. Another way the building will feel like part of the community for those making the transition to assisted living.
Right before the neighborhoods start are the offices for the administrator, receptionist, and nurses. Novak said the administrator’s title may change to “mayor” because it fits better with the community feel.
There are more studio and standard rooms than deluxe rooms which are one per neighborhood.
There will be no numbers for each room. Instead, there is a box with a light attached to the wall outside of every room. Novak calls them “memory boxes” for residents to put personal photos inside so they know which room is theirs.
“At night when all the lights are off, the floor will be lit by the memory boxes,” Novak said.
The studio consists of one room with a fridge and a microwave. According to Novak, there is little need for appliances in the room.
“They really don’t need much because they’re all going to have meals in the dining hall,” Novak said.
To save space, barndoors are used for the bathroom which can easily slide open. It also matches the barnwood throughout the room.
“It’s Goshen County,” Novak said.
Everything in the rooms is handicap accessible including the shower floors which are floor level and plenty of storage space in the bathroom.
The standard room consists of two rooms. The first room is empty with the second room being similar to the studio. The back room is more private while the front is more open.
All the way in the back of each neighborhood is the deluxe room. It is significantly bigger than the other two sizes and has its own patio right outside. Novak said the furnishings will also be a little nicer in the deluxe rooms.
Each room is empty of all types of furniture and will stay empty until a resident moves in with their own. Novak said people want their own stuff.
“When they come, they want their own beds… That’ll just be another step that this is home,” Novak said.
Every room, including the bathrooms, have a help button for the residents along with air conditioning and thermostats. Novak said the heating is different than traditional heat because it comes from the floor to ensure no quick blasts of cold air.
Outside in the back of the complex will be a small park for residents to sit or walk around. Currently it is a large, cemented area, but Novak plans for it to be a park open to the whole community outside of Evergreen as well. Specifically, the churches across the street which do not have any land for themselves to have picnics or outdoor services.
“It might be a soccer field or a kids’ area, but it is not going to be a weed patch,” Novak said.
There were a few issues Novak and his team had to overcome, and not just the original red neighborhood’s paint color looking too much like Nebraska Red. Novak said there was some difficulties finding materials during COVID and almost had a budgetary issue when the price of lumber shot up. However, Novak said things worked out because the general contractor, Ken Farrier purchased the lumber before the increase.
“This is an 8.4-million-dollar project. If we would have built it now, it would have costed an extra million dollars, and we don’t have another million dollars to spend,” Novak said.
The current issue is trying to get all of the furnishings into the complex, which is the main reason why the grand opening keeps getting delayed.
According to Novak, the price ranges between $3,200-$3,500 plus any extra levels of care a resident may need. Residents will get to pick which color neighborhood they are in and their room size. Novak also said there have been about 18 people to put in a deposit with in the first week of availability. He believes it could be close to full by the time Evergreen Plaza is ready to open.
Once the plaza is built, Novak said the next project will be to renovate Evergreen Court to add areas for physical therapy, cosmetology, and entertainment.
“Then we’ll celebrate,” Novak said.
Until then, Novak’s message to the community is after four years of planning, Evergreen Plaza is here.