Permanent financing has been secured for construction of The Spires at Berry College.
That’s great news for many Rome residents, and those hoping to move to Rome, who are planning to make The Spires their home.
Last year the Rome News-Tribune highlighted several future residents who were eager for construction to begin on the continuing care retirement community that will be located on Berry College property.
In late December, The Spires closed a $119.7 million tax-exempt bond financing deal, including $81.9 million in bonds underwritten by Ziegler, sold to mutual fund bond investors, and $37.8 million in bonds purchased by SunTrust Bank.
The tax-exempt bond financing will fund the entirety of the construction efforts of the senior living community.
The Spires, which will be completed in 2020, exceeded its 70 percent pre-construction sales goal in September 2018, an important milestone in development.
“Pre-sales are an indicator of market acceptance, which was a crucial factor in Ziegler’s underwriting as well as investor interest in purchasing the bonds,” said Adam Heffernan, SVP of Planning and Finance at Greenbrier Development, the consultancy managing the development of the project. In addition to demonstrable market acceptance, a third-party feasibility consultant thoroughly vetted the project budget and assumptions, and determined The Spires at Berry College is structured to be a financially strong operation, instilling confidence in investors. “The upfront funding puts us in a position to complete construction as scheduled, and we look forward to seeing this project through to opening in 2020,” Heffernan said.
“The concrete slab of building one has been poured, the concrete stairwells are now erected and we have gone vertical,” said Monika Lawrence, director of Marketing for The Spires. “Danny Norcharli, Brasfield and Gorrie’s assistant project manager, assures us that although the rain has slowed construction, there is work ongoing, rain or shine.”
But even before construction started, people were excited to be a part of The Spires, which will offer a variety of living situations to its residents including condos, apartments and cottages.
As of Feb. 22, 79 percent of units were sold. Depositors have already begun the personalization process for their apartment homes. The Spires has kicked off a program with Moving Station to assist depositors with the moving process.
Joel and Lynn Todino were among the first to make a deposit, securing their place.
“We got on board really early when they sent Joel a survey about a retirement community at Berry College,” Lynn told the Rome News-Tribune last year. “They were just starting to think about doing it and he said it looked pretty good. We really liked the idea.”
One of the factors that contributed to their decision was that the Todinos didn’t want their kids worrying about them in their later years.
“We decided it was a pretty good deal,” Lynn said, adding that the couple have signed up for a cottage at The Spires. “And it looks like it’s going to be a lovely environment to live in. We can have our dogs out there and we don’t have to do any maintenance and we’ll have access to all the facilities as well as to Berry College.”
Lynn added that many of her friends have already made a deposit to join her and Joel at The Spires, and even more are considering it.
“A lot of people think it’s just for retired Berry teachers or alum,” said Morgan Lamphere, VP of Marketing for The Spires. “But that’s not true. It’s open to anyone. We have people from all over Georgia and from several states away and even from as far away as California making deposits.”
But what is it that’s attracting people to The Spires?
Lamphere believes it’s a combination of things. The setting of The Spires, surrounded by beautiful Berry land and overlooking a lake, certainly doesn’t hurt. But there are other things that are appealing to people, she said.
“This will be a vibrant, active retirement community,” Lamphere said. “Half of the people who have made deposits have been involved in the education field. These are people who are intelligent and active.”
And there’s also a mentorship program that will be fostered between the residents and Berry students. Residents will mentor students in a variety of areas including business, finance, history and law.
And The Spires will offer a variety of living situations to its residents including condos, apartments and cottages.
In addition to the solid financial backing through Ziegler and SunTrust, The Spires has developed a strong relationship with Berry College.
“Not only is construction well underway and on track for 2020 completion, but we have been working very closely with Berry College to develop best-in-class programs and amenities for our residents,” Lamphere said. “With almost 80 percent of the available units reserved to date, the staff at The Spires is now working with depositors to customize their future homes — making this highly anticipated vision a reality.”