By Michele J. Kuhn
RED BANK – The brickwork is up and the windows are in. Construction along Riverside Avenue is continuing at a brisk pace.
The Atrium at Navesink Harbor is building 60 more one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors. That will bring the complex up to a total of 140 units when the six-story building is completed early next year with residents moving in by late winter or early spring. The buildings will be joined by a bridge.
The owner, Springpoint Senior Living, has been working to transform the property since it was purchased in 2006 by the Princeton-based nonprofit firm that owns 23 seniors communities in New Jersey.
The company took the original 12-story building, which had 170 small apartments, and corrected problems with the failing façade. The company then went floor-by-floor reconfiguring and refurbishing the tiny units into 80 one- and two-bedroom units. The contracts of tenants who were in the building when it was purchased were honored. Those tenants were temporarily moved to other units while their apartments were updated.
“As a company, we have invested to date about $25 million in this property and have borrowed another $35 million to do the build we’re doing here,” said Gary Puma, president and CEO of Springpoint Senior Living.
The community has weathered the economic downturn well. As Springpoint was putting its plans in place, the 2008 financial crisis occurred and caused the company to look at its plans and pricing. Today, there is a waiting list to get into the original building and nearly all the apartments in the new building are sold; only a few remain, said Susan Bruncati, the executive director of The Atrium at Navesink Harbor.
The Atrium has a new library with computer facilities; a billiards lounge with a grand piano, stunning views and a kitchenette where coffee and soda are always available; valet parking; a beautiful garden – complete with a putting green – on a patio overlooking the river; and a dining room where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, including three lunch and dinner specials daily along with a regular menu prepared by the in-house chef. One meal a day is included in residents’ monthly fees. The refurbished apartments have kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, lots of storage and large bathrooms. Many units have river views.
The complex comes with a wide range of services from health care to dining, from transportation to recreation – including the opportunity to glide on the facility’s pontoon boat for a tour of the Navesink River. There is a fitness area. There are housekeeping and maintenance services available. Residents can do as little as they want or as much as they want in their apartments.
“All the things you think of, that you do in your own home, we do. We pay your taxes, we maintain your apartment. You need things hung? We do that. You need to go to your doctor and we take you there or you can use our doctor downstairs,” Bruncati said.
“These are people who can live independently and, if they have health issues, they can be taken care of well here in the skilled unit,” Puma said, whose mother is a resident. Included in the fees is the ability to access the health services, either in the unit or in their own apartments at all hours.
“We offer everything,” Bruncati said. “We offer wellness care. We have our own Town Car, our own bus… We offer health care as well as independent living.
“We’re like a cruise ship. That’s probably the best way to describe us – only much more elegant,” she said.
There are two misconceptions about the property, Puma and Bruncati said. One is that the units are still as small as they were when the property was the Navesink House. The other is that the units are “too expensive.”
“One of the things people think about us is ‘Oh, they’re so expensive there.’ We’re really not expensive,” Bruncati said. “When you start adding up what you pay in taxes, lawn maintenance and housekeeping services and upkeep on your home and your car, your utilities …and you compare it to our monthly service fees, it’s shocking” because it is affordable.
“Sure, do we have $1 million apartments? Yes, we do, but we do apartments in the $200,000 range, actually even a little bit lower than that. There are a couple in the new building,” Bruncati said.
The monthly fees begin at about $2,000 a month and increase as the level of services desired by the resident increase.
Springpoint has a foundation that, in addition to assisting residents in Springpoint communities who develop financial difficulties, sponsors a number of activities and outings for residents. The foundation is also a supporter of such Red Bank institutions as the Count Basie Theatre, The Two River Theater and Lunch Break.
Residents are able to walk or be driven to nearby restaurants and shops and take advantage of what Red Bank has to offer.
“It’s a very active community,” Bruncati said.
The lifestyle available at The Atrium at Navesink Harbor gives its residents the ability to take advantage of the best of what retirement should be, Bruncati said. “When you’re in a place like this you really get to enjoy being a senior.”
“Our most commonly heard expression after people move into one of our communities is, ‘We wish we had done this sooner,’ “ Puma said.