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FREEHOLD, NJ-Applewood Estates, a 240-unit retirement community, is getting a $38-million expansion and renovation. The project will add 50 new apartments and 20 new cottages to the complex. Also part of the plan are new recreational amenities, a new promenade with a 250-seat performance center, a bistro, fitness center, library, business center, bank and convenience store.

Besides the community’s 240 apartment, it also has 30 residential healthcare units and 60 skilled nursing beds on the 44-acre site. Applewood Estates was opened in 1990 by the locally based CentraState Health Care system. The renovation/expansion project is under way and scheduled for completion by the middle of next year.

One interesting aspect of the project is that Applewood Estates’ administration obtained a substantial amount of input on the expansion/renovation from a seven-member project committee made up of retired businessmen and professionals who also are current residents of Applewood Estates, which is situated in Monmouth County. Besides advising the property’s administrators, the committee also served to keep residents updated during the project’s planning phase, which began in 2002, and the recent start of construction.

“It was a collaboration that worked well,” says Eli Firth, chairman of the committee and a former RCA executive. “We contributed the residents’ point of view and management encouraged us to continue to stay involved and keep everyone updated on the construction activity.”

“The management team was amenable to our suggestions,” says Dan Weitekamp, current president of the community’s resident association and a former deputy director of administration with textile giant J.P. Stevens. “They took action whenever possible.”

Another member of the planning committee is Bryant Gould, a former architect with the Eggers Group, who used his expertise during the early planning phases. “We addressed a wide range of temporary issues,” he says.

“We were fortunate to have the expertise of our residents contribute to the project,” says Glorida Zayanskosky, executive director of Applewood Estate. “They shared their ideas and their experience. We really learned from them.”

Besides the additional residences and amenities, the community’s healthcare wing is undergoing a major renovation. All of the public and common areas within the existing buildings are being refurbished as well.

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