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PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA-Hartford, CT-based RLS has broken ground for the Hill at Whitemarsh, a not-for-profit life-care retirement community on a 96-acre site in Lafayette Hill off of Flourtown and Thomas Roads. The total cost, including land acquisition and construction, is $215 million.

The community will contain 180 one- and two-bedroom apartments, 86 cottages and villas, 28 assisted-living apartment units and 60 private-skilled nursing suites. Occupants don’t own the residences, but pay an entrance fee, which is 90% refundable if they move or die, in which case the refund passes on to their estate, Stephanie Hertzog, VP of sales and marketing for RLS, tells GlobeSt.com. The entrance fee ranges from $243,000 for a one-bedroom unit to more than $789,000 for a villa. A life-care fee of approximately $25,000 is deducted from the refund for residents who move from independent living to assisted living during their tenure.

In addition to the one-time entrance fee, residents pay a monthly fee, which Hertzog says ranges from $3,365 a month to $5,335 a month, depending on the size of the unit. Benefits for the monthly fee include property maintenance, 30 meals a month, transportation to shopping and area cultural programs and events that are scheduled every day at the facility. The facility contains a health center, pool, woodworking center, art studio, clubrooms, convenience store, barber shop, beauty salon, theater, library, café and other amenities.

RLS, founded in 1989, is the owner and operator of senior living communities nationwide. It is providing development, finance, marketing and management of Hill at Whitemarsh, which is governed by a voluntary board of directors in the Greater Philadelphia area. The community’s architect is Newburyport, MA-based EGA PC. A JV between Philadelphia-based Intech Construction and LF Driscoll Co., which is headquartered in Bala Cynwyd, oversees construction development, and Fort Washington-based Westrum Development is handling construction. Completion is scheduled for 2007.

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