Regions Shenandoah Valley

New community to include 178 residences

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Print this page by James Heffernan

When the National Lutheran Home, a 300-bed nursing home in Washington, D.C., moved to Rockville, Md., in 1980, it was able to expand its operations to include independent and assisted-living facilities for adults ages 60 and up. After completing the Wescott II cottages in Maryland in 2008, the nonprofit group began focusing on its long-held dream of a sister community in Virginia.

The site requirements were specific: 50 to 100 acres; shovel-ready, with water and sewer hookups; near a major hospital; and with room to grow.

The Shenandoah Valley had an advocate for the project in the Rev. James Utt, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Winchester and a board member of the National Lutheran Home. One Sunday morning, Utt whispered in the ear of one of his parishioners, Lisa Behr, a local Realtor, “I need some land.”

Behr, in turn, helped recruit two prominent local businessmen and real estate developers who became instrumental in getting a site plan approved. Frederick County gave its blessing in 2009, and the next year, National Lutheran Communities & Services acquired 132 acres of rolling orchard land west of the city, about two miles from Winchester Medical Center. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in May.

When it opens in 2013, the $78 million Village at Orchard Ridge will offer residents three levels of accommodations and care ranging from independent living to skilled nursing. The first phase of construction, which is being managed by Howard Shockey & Sons, will consist of 178 residences — 51 cottage homes and 127 apartments — around a village green. A community chapel will provide a place of worship and serve as a gathering place for musical, cultural and other events. There are also plans for dining venues, a wellness center, walking trails, areas for gardening and a general store.

“The centerpiece of our community is in providing our residents choice and flexibility,” said Courtney Malengo of National Lutheran Communities & Services. “Their choice is especially significant because our philosophy is based on resident-directed care and whole-person wellness.”

The Village at Orchard Ridge began accepting priority deposits on the apartments and cottages in 2009. As of mid-May, about two-thirds of the units in Phase One were under contract, according to NLCS chief executive Larry Bradshaw, who added that the improving economy should help with the effort. “We are excited to make this neighborhood a reality,” he said.

Behr, president of the board of directors of the Village at Orchard Ridge, says the continuing care retirement community will contribute to the growth and economy of the region and provide seniors and their families “with a vibrant, friendly community suited to meet their physical, psychological and spiritual needs both present and future.”


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