This Mansfield, Texas master-planned, senior community offers its 55 and up residents a place with an attention to detail, livability and personal needs.
By Lauren Felechner
Photography by Balduf Photography
Bound with a strong recommendation, Richard E. Simmons, president of Integrated Construction & Development, L.P., and Waterview at Mansfield Investors, L.P., as well as the builder, developer and owner of Watercrest at Mansfield, was called upon by the Mayor of Mansfield to deliver senior housing within Mansfield, Texas. Alongside the independent living center was built the senior assisted-living, memory care and skilled nursing center of Isle at Watercrest, where Simmons served as both the builder and general contractor. “The community of Mansfield needed quality senior housing and the end result two years later has been a vibrant development with over 300 residents,” Simmons said.
Two phases, two years and two facilities later, Watercrest at Mansfield and Isle at Watercrest are made available to residents. Although built separately, the entire campus was master-planned. The independent living portion of the community was built first, reaching completion after 16 months in February 2011. It contains 211 units in its extensive, 324,884-square-foot site, and is 87 percent leased so far. The assisted living portion of the community was developed and built one year after the independent living.
Completed after 14 months of construction in July 2011, Isle at Watercrest contains 93 units and has reached a 50 percent leasing within its first six months of opening in its 99,972 square-foot lodging. “We began to pre-lease six months in advance of our opening so it was important that we met our construction timeline,” Simmons pointed out. The market responded well to the availability of efficient floor plans that offer up to three-bedroom units. Although they may be under one community, these two senior living facilities serve very different purposes for its residents. Isle at Watercrest — as the assisted-living center — offers its tenants the assisted living, dementia care as well as a licensed skilled nursing facility. “Assisted is a needs driven business. Independent is a choice,” Simmons explained.
With such expansive site plans, there were bound to be some roadblocks along the way for the project team involved. “The site had enough topography that it was 30 feet higher from the front to the rear of the property. Fortunately, our experience in multifamily and senior housing construction has taught us to coordinate the challenges between all professionals and create an environment that appears to be natural,” Simmons said. He also explained that the assistedliving, dementia care and skilled nursing facility was a very technical building that called for a precise attention to the specifications required by the state agency, although the permit process remained the same for both facilities. J. Marc Tolson, AIA, owner and managing principal, Galier.
Tolson. French Design Associates; as well as architect for the Mansfield facilities, came across his own architectural challenges concerning this project. Due to the size of the facilities, the zoning requirements with the city of Mansfield were a challenge in itself. “We were encouraged by them to provide a more urban style project as part of the city’s future visions … We also were challenged by the site’s density. We blended these two stories to create a tailored and urban, native, Texas Hill Country design,” Tolson continued. “The site itself was tight. On just over 12 acres we placed over 300 units in a suburban setting. Since we were limited in height by zoning, it was a challenge to get all the units and parking, yet preserve existing trees, open spaces and views.” The integration and preservation of the already-existing lake — alongside creating a useable and workable park for both sections of the community for the residents — became tasks for the project team that ultimately flourished into the community’s highlights.
For both facilities, it took about seven months for the entitlement and conceptual design process, and the construction drawings of both buildings were devised, bid and permitted within another five months. These facilities may have delivered at differing times; however, they were integrated through their architectural styles, their costeffective approaches as well as the main goal for their role as serving the senior community of Mansfield. Tolson explained that the project team was quite successful “with the old adage ‘spend the money where people see it.'”
By limiting wasted space, Tolson and the project team were able to focus on maximizing the buildings uses for residentdriven purposes. Using a schematic palette, massing, material and elements for the individual buildings allowed for Tolson to embody the sense of community between the two. “Each building has its own character and can stand alone visually but the goal was that they complement each other to create a campus feel and sense of unity. This allows residents to move from one level of care and quality of space to another of the same quality and character,” Tolson explained. Although intertwined as one community, the separate buildings are able to manifest their own individuality simultaneously. Isle at Watercrest — as the assisted living portion — naturally calls for a more instinctive and inward focus, therefore, Tolson’s and Paul Milosevich’s — developer and owner of Isle at Watercrest and Mansfield AL Group, L.P. — efforts behind these two facilities was undoubtedly the livability factor for their potential residents. However, Simmons incentive in the community’s direction during its developmental process definitely came from a more personal motivation. “[Inspiration came from] watching my mom age and seeing there was nowhere that she could enjoy, given her disease and her relatively young age,” Simmons explained. Watercrest was initially built by Simmons in the attempt to mirror the typical continued care retirement community (CCRC), however, the standard services and high-fixed fees were done away with, making for a positive response from the market.
Presented with the annual Pubby Award for “Independent & Assisted Senior Community of the Year,” Watercrest at Mansfield has rightfully so been granted this title with their expansive community site and substantial resident options. Encouraged by fare rates, personal needs addressed and outdoor activity made readily available, the residents at Watercrest engage themselves into their surrounding landscape that has fundamentally been effective and crucial to the fruition of the community’s facilities. Ample covered public and private balconies, patios, outdoor fireplace and fire pit areas, heated salt water pool, lush interior courtyards, parks, fountains, an already-existing large tree and lush new landscape illustrate the livability beyond Watercrest’s interior, according to Tolson. Linking the community’s surrounding ambience, decor and lifestyle is Watercrest’s main-street front entrance that makes for competent visibility to the public. “The site is a textbook senior housing location,” Simmons proclaimed.
Lauren Felechner is an assistant editor at 50+ Builder. She may be contacted at email@example.com.