The development, which will have about 300 residents, is slated for a 48-acre tract on the college property. The main entrance will be on Redmond Circle and the complex will overlook the former Florida Rock quarry, now named Eagle Lake.
It's designated a CCRC, said Morgan Lamphere, vice president of marketing, because it will have a combination of living quarters — for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care. Residents will be able to tap any of those services, depending on their needs.
"It's not rentals. You don't buy a house. But under our agreement you can live in the community the rest of your life," she told the Rome City Commission during a progress update Monday.
"No matter how your health is, you can stay ... Also, if you spend through your resources, the community will still take care of you," she added. "They're starting to use the term "Life Plan" for CCRCs because you have everything you need for the rest of your life."
Here's how it works: Residents pay an entrance fee that's tied to the cost of the home they choose. It ranges from $188,000 for a 1-bedroom, 1-bath apartment to about $400,000 for a freestanding cottage. There's a $10,000 add-on for a second resident.
Lamphere said most people sell their current home and use the proceeds for the entrance fee.
"And you get 90 percent of that back if you decide to leave," she said. "Or it goes to your estate."
Then there's the monthly fee, which covers all expenses such as utilities, amenities, housekeeping, security and access to all the levels of health care. That fee ranges from $2,495 to $3,595 a month, with an extra $795 for a second person in the home.
Commissioner Bill Irmscher questioned what would happen if a resident lost their income and couldn't pay the monthly fee. Lamphere said they could draw from their entrance fee, and an endowment also will be set up.
The Berry entity that owns The Spires — Lavender Mountain Senior Living — is a nonprofit. Gary Waters, chief of staff for the college, said the venture would be part of the school's student work program.
"Our interest is driven by the interest of alumni (in a retirement community)," Waters said. "But it will provide jobs for 50 to 100 students ... It's real-world experience that will match up with their academic focus. Nursing, exercise science, education — the opportunities are still unfolding."
Commissioner Bill Collins asked if CCRCs are a new trend for senior communities, but Lamphere said she expects them to remain rare.
"To build a community that provides this level of service is expensive, so the cost is fairly high," Lamphere said. "A lot of senior communities are nice, but they have very few services so as soon as you need something you're out. This guarantees services. But the other is less expensive and we're seeing a lot more of that type of development."
Still, the demand is there. Lamphere said they have 97 of the 119 reservation deposits they need by Sept. 30 in order to lock down financing. A "Visit Rome Day" for potential residents is scheduled for next week, and she said she expects to ramp up marketing during the next three months.
"We're on track to start construction in the fall, with our first move-ins in 2020," she said. "By August or September 2020, we'll have about 25 percent of our residents in."
The core components of the community must all be up and running before a certificate of occupancy is awarded, she noted.
That includes a clubhouse — with restaurants, pool, fitness center, salon and community center — flanked by independent living apartments and four stories of connected healthcare units.
Due to demand, Lamphere said they've increased the number of cottage sites to 26 from 16, and all but three are taken. That meant the number of apartments, available with up to three bedrooms, had to be decreased to 144 from 172.
Note: The acreage of the property has been corrected.