Warwick Twp. retirement community adding 47 apartments for seniors

A retirement community near Lititz is planning a new 47-unit, four-story apartment building to help meet the growing demand for older adult housing.

United Zion Retirement Community recently announced plans for a new $26 million expansion at its campus, located at 722 Furnace Hills Pike in Warwick Township. The apartment building, projected to open in 2025, will nearly double the community’s number of independent living units for adults age 62 and older.

“We have had a waiting list for some time now,” said Sue Verdegem, president and CEO of United Zion Retirement Community. 

The faith-based community, which currently has about 140 residents, has seen increased demand for senior housing, like other facilities across the country. Its 54 existing apartments and cottages are fully occupied, with a three-year waiting period for new residents.

“It’s reflective of the population that is retiring and aging,” Verdegem said. 

Demand for senior housing has been on the rise as more baby boomers retire, and is expected to grow even more in the coming years. The Census Bureau projects that by 2030, 21 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older, up from 15 percent in 2016. 

United Zion aims to serve “middle market” seniors, who do not qualify for programs like Medicaid, but also may not be able to afford expensive retirement communities. 

Entrance fees for the new units are projected to be between $185,000 and $230,000 – with additional monthly fees for maintenance and utilities.

The community is currently accepting applications, and reservations will begin in the spring. More information is available by calling 717-626-2071 or by visiting uzrc.org.

Units will have one or two bedrooms, range from 700 to 1,100 square feet, and include amenities like balconies, washer-dryers and easy entry showers. 

The building proposal also includes a new fitness center, dining area and other gathering areas. 

United Zion originally started planning the project before the pandemic. Today the cost of the project is much higher, and Verdegem said she will be watching closely to see if it affects demand for the new units. 

“We’re anxious to see what the economy does,” she said. 

Currently, construction on the apartment building is slated to begin next year, with a projected opening in 2025 – when the community celebrates its 120th anniversary.

United Zion opened in 1905 as a partnership between the United Zion Church and a couple, Barbara and Henry Firestone, who provided shelter for homeless veterans. While the community receives oversight and support from the church, not all of its residents are members of the denomination. 

“We have a smaller community and that’s attractive to people,” Verdegem said. 

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