Source: Philadelphia Magazine, Sandy Smith
Club Med it ain’t, but Canvas Valley Forge comes awfully damn close — the only thing missing is the beach.
The new 55-plus residential community Bozzuto Development Company is now building at the Village at Valley Forge is, if not the first, one of the first in the country to adapt the all-inclusive resort ethos to what we really can’t call “senior living” any more.
That’s because the “seniors” at whom this residential community is aimed have no intention of “retiring.” They’re the Baby Boomers who raised their kids in the ‘burbs but are now ready to downsize their lives. What Bozzuto is banking on is that while they may want a smaller living-space footprint, they’d rather keep the amenities they enjoyed, and then some.
“What distinguishes us from the other 55-plus apartment communities is service,” says Pete Sikora, development manager at Bozzuto Development. “Canvas Valley Forge has a whole service component that allows the residents to free up time.”
There’s a long list of those services, and they begin on move-in day with white-glove moving service that will unpack residents’ bags and boxes for them. They also include things like valet dry cleaning, grocery delivery, notary services and bill payment options, package delivery assistance, a personal shopper and a pet concierge. They also include loaners — not just car and bike sharing but also a “lending library” of tools, supplies and other basic items to help residents do the things they enjoy doing.
Then there are the activities and perks designed to make residents think they’re on vacation every day of the year: Complimentary continental breakfast every morning and catered meals twice a week. Afternoon teas, wine and whiskey tastings, cooking demonstrations, comedy nights, a book club, a travel club and special events and excursions to area attractions and activities curated by residence staff. (Those activities also include volunteer service and charitable events orgnized through the “Canvas Cares” philanthropic program, created to tap into affluent Boomers’ desire to give back, Sikora says.)
Then there are the facilities: A lobby lounge with a fireplace, a clubhouse bar and lounge, and a heated outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. A fitness center, a yoga studio and a multipurpose game room. A grab-and-go convenience market. Indoor and outdoor kitchens for demonstrations and group functions plus outdoor grills. And outdoors, in addition to that kitchen, there’s a community garden, a landscaped courtyard with fire pit, two more courtyards, a dog park and a bocce court.
And for those whose idea of retirement does not include giving up work, there’s a full suite of spaces outfitted for business, including a conference room and a “genius bar” technology space.
Those more interested in working with their hands will also find room to explore in the community’s workshop studio. Bozzuto Development Senior Vice President Mike Henehan explains, “It’s a place where they can go make a mess and not worry about making a mess in their own unit.”
The idea behind Canvas is to allow residents to downsize their living space while continuing to play the roles they’ve been accustomed to playing in their professional, personal and family lives. “One of the things we’ve noticed,” Henehan says, “is [Boomers are] heistant to downsize because they’re used to hosting family gatherings, so we designed our amenities so they can bring their families in. Private dining rooms will enable them to invite friends and relatives over for dinners. and there’s a full guest suite they can use to put up visiting friends and family.
“We give them the added spaces where they can continue to host their relatives and be the matriarchs of the family, if you will.”
Those who would still prefer to entertain at home (literally) could occupy one of the “entertainer” units in this rental complex. These larger two-bedroom-and-den units have bigger living areas and kitchens whose equipment includes beverage service and a fridge that can store wine, beer and other drinks.
Like its amenities and services, Canvas’ location in the Village at Valley Forge was also carefully curated, says Sikora. “We chose this location deliberately because it’s located near where they’ve been living for most of their lives.” It also takes advantage of the King of Prussia District’s ongoing efforts to transform the edge city into a truly walkable, multifunctional community: “It’s what people want,” Sikora continues. “They want to be able to walk out the front door and get a bite to eat, or walk the Chester Valley Trail, or or go for a bike ride without having to jump in the car.”
(Those who wish to keep their cars when they downsize, however, will be glad to know the complex also has a controlled-access underground garage.)
While the Canvas concept is something completely new and different for Bozzuto, it’s the product of the company’s long and extensive experience in building and managing apartment communities. “We manage more than 60,000 apartments up and down the East Coast and on the West Coast, and we’re putting all that knowledge into this community,” Henehan says.
Those who find this year-round resort lifestyle appealing can check out the sample model kitchen and get more information in Canvas’ leasing office in the King of Prussia Mall. The building itself will be ready for occupancy in mid-fall. Rents for apartments are surprisingly affordable for the level of service and amenities provided, starting at $2200 per month for one-bedroom units and rising to $4200 per month for the extra-large units. And in contrast to many 55-plus communities, there’s no large upfront payment to become part of this — just the usual first and last month’s rent for a standard one-year lease. (Yes, that’s another convenience: You’re free to leave if and when it suits you.)