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Construction crews from Cameron General Contractors work on a new $30 million senior living complex taking shape at 7683 Shallowford Road

Ashwood Square at a glance

› Location: 7683 Shallowford Road

› Investment: $30 million

› No. of apartments: 120

› Developer: Resort Lifestyle Communities

› Builder: Cameron General Contractors

› Rates: $2,900 to $4,600 a month, including meals, transportation, utilities, activities

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A sign shows the entrance of the new Ashwood Square Retirement Resort will be built on Shallowford Road ove the next year.
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Ashwood Square

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Aerial photo shows site at 7683 Shallowford Road where the Ashwood Square senior living complex is being built in East Brainerd.

Developer Ken Defoor said Tuesday he was planning on building another one of his office parks on the 11.5 acres he bought years ago within a mile of Hamilton Place mall and Interstate 75 on Shallowford Road.

The land is near the $100 million Waterside Lifestyle Center at I-75 and Shallowford Road that Defoor also is developing with stores, restaurants and a hotel, at the undeveloped site offering frontage on five-lane Shallowford Road.

But when neighbors in two surrounding Ashwood subdivisions in East Brainerd voiced concerns about traffic and congestion in the area, Defoor said he got a proposal to use the undeveloped site for another type of use he now is convinced will better fit what nearby homeowners want.

So last April, Defoor sold his prime site at 7681 Shallowford Road to a Lincoln, Neb., developer of senior housing complexes known as Resort Lifestyle Communities.

"I didn't know this group from Adam's house cat when they approached me, but they have been a great business to work with and they have bent over to try to accommodate the neighborhoods around them," Defoor told a Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce gathering Tuesday to mark the groundbreaking for the $30 million development.

RLC is building a 120-apartment complex for seniors that Defoor insists is better suited for the mixed-use area. When completed in the next 12 to 18 months, the new Ashwood Square development will feature studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for those ages 55 and up.

"We originally were going to do an office park, but this neighborhood is going to be so much better off with this new development, and I think the area is going to benefit tremendously," Defoor said.

The new complex is being built directly across the street from The Lantern at Morning Pointe on Shallowford Road and only a quarter mile from Creekside at Shallowford, another independent senior living center built in 1998 and owned by the Holiday Retirement chain.

Kelly Jo Hinrichs, marketing manager for Resort Lifestyle Communities, said Ashwood Square fills a growing need for more senior living options in Chattanooga. The new facility, which will open in 2018, will include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with an all-inclusive fee for meal, transportation and other services.

The apartments range from 566 to 1,206 square feet.

"The best thing about our communities is that they allow residents to do the kinds of things that they want to do, rather than the things that they dread or have become a burden on them," said Hinrichs. "Independent senior living for us means choice and flexibility."

Hinrichs said Ashwood Square will feature fresh, chef-prepared meals, flexible dining hours, live-in managers, an around-the-clock emergency call system, valet parking and concierge and a full calendar of activities. The complex will include a 150-seat theater and a budget for entertainers and speakers.

Within the complex on the main street between the apartments, Hinrichs said the developers are looking to attract hair stylists, home health care services, a pharmacy, a financial institution and other amenities.

The Chattanooga facility will be the third RLC location in Tennessee and will employ up to 40 workers.

Resort Lifestyle Communities began 16 years ago with its first facility in Lincoln, Neb., where the company is headquartered. For the next decade and a half, the company added an average of one new complex per year.

But last year, the company increased its building pace and is now breaking ground on a new senior living community once every month.

"We saw the demand for our communities, but we are continuing to make sure that we grow steady and smart and working with local partners that help us provide local services and connections in the cities where we locate," Hinrichs said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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