By Alexander Germanis
Our cultural vernacular is littered with phrases like ‘over the hill,’ or ‘past your prime,’ or ‘autumn years.’ While all of these terms are meant to convey the idea that someone is gaining senior citizen status, they also have two other things in common: They’re often horribly inaccurate and they’re missing the point.
Once someone reaches retirement it’s not a time for lament but rather a time to really start living the way one deserves to. It’s time for a new chapter—to make the rest of your life the best of your life. It’s time to enter a new prime of life.
That is the philosophy upon which Elm Haven Place was built.
As soon as someone mentions living in any sort of community for senior citizens it instantly conjures up thoughts of nursing homes or assisted living residences.
Elm Haven Place in Elmwood is neither of those things, says co-owner Mike Gudat. “The biggest thing we want people to realize is you are not moving into a nursing home! You’re not even really moving into a senior living facility. Elm Haven Place is a luxurious apartment complex with 21 secure one-bedroom suites and over 5,000 square feet of common spaces, like a library, private dining room, community kitchen, grand piano foyer, four-seasons room, patio, grand dining room, theater living room, main living room, and second-floor coffee bar.”
“It’s basically a really nice apartment complex reserved for use by anyone over 55. But we’ve been known to host a 50 year-old,” jokes co-owner Joe Fontana. Anyone willing to simplify—whether they’re still working or retired—can find an easier lifestyle waiting for them at Elm Haven Place.
“We have an On-site Community Director, Pam!” Joe adds. “It’s like having your own apartment but with the assistance of a live-in accommodation manager—a facilitator of the age-exclusive lifestyle, so to speak. If someone has a special need to solve, Pam is there to listen and help and respond to those individual resident requests. We go above and beyond what a normal independent senior living apartment complex offers.”
The amenities keep coming for the all-inclusive model, which starts at $1,075 per month. That single monthly bill includes cable, WiFi, utilities, and monthly cleaning with free laundry facilities on each floor. The suites feature spacious living rooms, kitchenettes, a spa-like bathroom, high efficiency appliances, personal HVAC controls, luxurious carpeting and plank flooring, large windows, oversized glass-enclosed showers, wheelchair accessibility, and extra storage. Luxury has never been so affordable.
100 Years of History
While there is something to be said for having something new, there’s something far more special, more meaningful to anything with a history. Elm Haven Place is just that place. Built in 1919 as a high-end railroad hotel, the building was tripled in size in the 1940s to serve as a hospital and then a nursing home, and finally a senior living home.
When Joe and Mike purchased Elm Haven Place on its 100th year, it was done with the intent to not only breathe life back into it, but to restore it to its original glory and grandeur. It was to become the height of luxury living for the seniors of Central Illinois.
When the previous owner, Julie, passed away, her children wanted nothing more than for the history and legacy of the great building to remain intact. Other developers had sought to repurpose it as a warehouse, an antique mall, a self-storage facility, or to just tear it down. But Mike and Joe were not about to allow any of those things to happen.
The legacy, they swore, would remain intact. Seniors would continue to call Elm Haven Place home, but a home that all those under 55 would envy. Elm Haven would begin a new life of luxury.
History in the Making
Its new life, as it turned out, was not something Elm Haven Place would enter easily. After weeks of exploration and inspection, Mike and Joe saw there was a lot of work to be done—from the foundation to the leaking windows, non-functioning elevator, and outdated plumbing.
Working with a local architect and designer, Elm Haven Place was re-imagined and revamped at every level. Gutted and rebuilt with high-end solutions, the 100 year-old building now holds its “irreplaceable beauty from 1919 but the modern luxuries of 2019.”
During the grand opening in June 2020, the 500 people in attendance—including local and national leaders—were overwhelmed by the building’s beauty and its astounding transformation. “Many Elmwood citizens even expressed gratitude for investing in such an incredible project in the heart of Elmwood,” Mike shares.
“It was incredibly touching to meet and talk with the family members of people who used to live in the old Elm Haven Place, coming back and seeing what we had turned it into,” Joe adds. “We exceeded our expectations on what we can deliver to the community and our residents. It’s far better than we thought!”
The Exclusive Community
Learning for themselves just how great Elm Haven Place is are residents like Elvaretta Butler, who is a youthful 88 years of age. She moved in after her grandchildren researched it online. “They picked Elm Haven Place because it would be safe and I can have my dog Missy with me,” she shares. “It’s close to where they live in Williamsfield. I like the layout of the apartment and the sound proofing so my neighbor across the hall cannot hear my TV nor I hers. It is also nice having an in-house manager who is always concerned about taking care of the tenants’ needs.”
Those needs are as varied as the people who now call Elm Haven Place home. “I guess I got tired of paying rent and living by myself,” expresses 49 year-old Chad Steiner. “Now I pay for a lifestyle that allows me to be a part of the Elm Haven Place Community.”
Pam understands the residents’ feelings all to well. After all, she’s a resident too.
“I love living here and love the feeling that it is my home,” she says. “I treat the residents as if they are guests in my home. With things opening up, we will be bringing in activities, groups, and events that are not for residents only, but for the community at large. I am dedicated to making Elm Haven a place where retirement is the prime of your life.”
Make the Move
With 21 fully finished suites, Elm Haven Place is definitely the place to enjoy time with family, friends, or your pets. Tucked away on a safe, quiet, historic square in Elmwood, it is within walking distance of a library, firehouse, multiple restaurants, a post office, pharmacy, and more.
The suites can also be adapted to fit a resident’s needs, whether it’s by adding a grab bar in the shower or by creating additional storage.
For those who would love to move but hate the idea of actually moving, there is the moving assistance program. “We believe that stress-free living should start with stress-free moving!” Mike points out. “With every signed lease, the team at Elm Haven Place will provide physical or significant financial assistance to help you move.”
Of course there is a flipside to the moving coin. Acquiring a new home at Elm Haven Place means having to get rid of your old home. Because both Mike and Joe are real estate investors, they are positioned to consider purchasing your home to help with the transition into retirement living.
The New Prime of Life
Just as Elm Haven Place has undergone many physical transformations, the term ‘senior living’ is also being transformed. Now Elm Have Place is the home of ‘age-exclusive luxury living.’ But, most importantly, it is simply home.
It is a home where one can start seeing retirement as a new prime of life, where the past melts away. All the years of work, gaining an education, raising a family, struggling to make ends meet, slaving away at maintaining a home—all of those experiences are pages that have been written, read through, and turned. The new pages have yet to be written.
Elm Haven Place is located at in 101 North Rose Street in Elmwood, IL. To see more of what we have to offer or if you want to schedule your private ‘Welcome Home’ tour, please visit us at www.elmhavenplace.com, call us at (309) 338-9337, or contact Pam at [email protected] The suites are filling fast, so don’t put off living the life you deserve.
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