The Bensalem independent living facility now boasts more eating options, a bar area, modern decor, and more
By Samantha Bambino
In many ways, Juniper Village, an independent living facility located at 3200 Bensalem Blvd., is a typical retirement home. Exclusive to adults 62 years and older, residents can take advantage of light exercise classes, a sewing/crafting room and dementia care.
At the same time, the 357,350-square-foot community can easily be mistaken for a swanky hotel. With two bar areas, including one in the all-new 32 Club restaurant, constantly-revolving menus, modern decor, and flexible schedules that allow residents to travel up to 20 miles for free, Juniper is working to ensure retirees are living life to the fullest.
Juniper Village, which boasts more than 20 locations across the country, came to Bensalem in December 2016, when it purchased the 30-year-old Wood River Village Retirement Community for $13.65 million. For nearly two years, the space underwent a total overhaul, which cost an additional $10 million.
According to Alex Berol, director of community relations, a number of original Wood River residents were present throughout the transformation.
“They suffered through some pretty intensive renovations, but the feedback has been, once the product was finished, they’re very happy,” he said.
From the moment one steps foot in the lobby, it’s evident that Juniper is not your average independent living facility. Guests are instantly greeted by sleek, stone walls, a welcoming fireplace and bright, natural light gleaming through large windows. Berol explained how every detail and design was meticulously selected by Juniper’s founder and CEO, Lynne S. Katzmann.
“They’re going for a much more hotel, homey feel,” he said.
While many retirement communities have a regimented schedule for meal times, something Berol said was practiced at Wood River, Juniper is quickly moving away from this idea. Instead, residents have absolute control over when and what they eat.
As part of their living plan, each is granted $540 a month to spend at the handful of in-house eateries. These include the River Cafe, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Residents can grab a cup of coffee and scone, munch on a panini, or try gluten-free cauliflower crust pizza, all while taking in a view of Neshaminy Creek. Menus alternate daily, weekly and seasonally depending on the space.
In addition to a slew of food options, residents can enjoy a night out without leaving the comfort of the building. A full-service bar sits just beyond the lobby, boasting wine, spirits and barstools that are an appropriate height for seniors.
On Tuesday, Feb. 26, Juniper unveiled its latest addition — the 32 Club restaurant. This space features an open air kitchen, a wood-fired pizza oven, two floors of seating, and ample room to host events and musical acts.
“We’re really focused on utilizing the space that we have,” Berol said. “This used to be apartments.”
Onion frizzles, wild mushroom pate and other bar appetizers can be found on the 32 Club-exclusive menu.
“It’s something people can enjoy while they’re having some cocktails, but they’re not going to get in any of the other restaurants,” said David Ritter, director of dining services. “There are different personalities in each restaurant with the way of decor, china and food. It should be a very nice, diverse community available for retirees to give them a lot of different things.”
Other Juniper amenities include an outdoor deck and grill, a beauty salon, chapel, intricate train display, convenience store and library. Inside the Center for the Arts, residents can view pieces created by neighbors, participate in group chair exercises, and attend movie nights and presentations by guest lecturers. A monthly newsletter called “The Village View” and strategically placed television screens inform them of upcoming events.
“Our big focus is letting the residents enjoy what they have while they’re here,” Berol said.
As far as living spaces, available options include one-bedroom, one-bedroom deluxe, two-bedroom and studio. Each comes equipped with an oven, microwave, cabinet space and a balcony.
“You can see the artwork, you can see the light fixtures. It’s definitely new but we tried to still keep that warm feeling. It’s not super modern, but not super clinical or 1985,” Berol said.
The community has vacancies, and is looking for new residents to join its current 150, most of whom have either lived in the area for years, or are returning to be near adult children and grandchildren. Juniper recently launched a digital ad campaign to attract a younger generation.
“We’re looking for the next round of influx to come in. And with the baby boomers coming, it’s very doable,” Berol said. “This area is more inundated with assisted living than independent, but I think that’s why we do so well. For me, the exciting part about being with Juniper is the forward thinking and understanding that this is about to explode, this community. And being on the front end of that is just amazing.” ••
For more information, visit junipercommunities.com or call 215–752–2370.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com