Newcastle is reaching into its history and welcoming the development of a 110-home retirement community catering to the aging Chinese and Chinese-American population. A groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday brought together local elected officials to lend support to the project, including former Washington governor and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke.
Aegis Living is developing a 7.5 acre plot of land on S.E. 76th Street in Newcastle called Aegis Gardens, which will have access to nearby Lake Boren, and feature traditional Chinese architecture design aesthetics coupled with Pacific Northwest style. The community will have 24-hour care provided by multi-lingual staff, as well as memory care and primary care administered onsite.
“I’m so glad the architects have avoided a Disneyland approach with the project, and instead adopted a very international, Northwest architectural style, which is a great tribute to our region and to those who will live here,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.
The new luxury retirement community is expected to cost more than $50 million and is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2017.
Aegis Living CEO Dwayne Clark said the company opened the first for-profit, all-assisted living community for Chinese residents in the United State in Fremont, California. The community near San Francisco opened 14 years ago and the company has worked to perfect the concept.
Clark said the company originally looked at the site for one of its other retirement community concepts, of which there are seven under construction in the Greater Seattle area. But when they noticed the names of landmarks in the area, such as China Creek and Coal Creek, they dug a little deeper.
“We found there are 93,000 Chinese Americans within a 25-mile radius of this site,” Clark said. “It was a great opportunity for us to bring this new concept to this area.”
Constantine said that when he was first approached by Clark with the idea, he called it an “audacious plan,” and he wasn’t sure the new community would be possible. But given the dramatic change of King County’s demographics, it is vital that the aging population is taken care of in regard to housing and healthcare.
“One of our greatest and growing concerns is making sure there is adequate housing and communities for our aging populations,” Constantine said, adding that there are 5,000 seniors of Chinese descent over the age of 75 that live within a 25-mile radius of the new community and thousands more who are nearing retirement age.
“It will serve as a much-needed epicenter of our Chinese cultural events on the Eastside,” Constantine said. “Events open to the entire public will be welcome in Newcastle and on the Eastside.”