When Walter Taylor and his wife, Riley, were looking to move from Athens to be closer to family in southeast Georgia, they had all but decided on a home in Pooler.
Then someone suggested Ashleigh Place, an affordable, senior-living apartment community that was about to open in Richmond Hill.
“We investigated and we loved it,” Walter Taylor said. “I think it’s beautiful.”
The Taylors moved into one of Ashleigh Place’s 80 apartments last week.
“Everybody’s friendly,” Walter said. “It seems like it’s going to be a nice place. I’m looking forward to it.”
Ashleigh Place celebrated its grand opening Wednesday. The developers joined business partners, Richmond Hill and Bryan County leaders and Ashleigh Place’s new tenants for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and catered lunch.
“What a great addition to the city of Richmond Hill,” Mayor Harold Fowler said.
Ashleigh Place is off Timber Trail Road at the entrance to Richmond Hill Plantation. Seniors age 55 and older qualify to live there based on their annual gross income.
The complex is a tax-credit property developed by The Humanities Foundation of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The Humanities Foundation has developed more than 20 similar communities throughout the Southeast, but Ashleigh Place is its first in Georgia.
“The people of Richmond Hill have shown great compassion and grace, and I am so proud to have our first affordable-apartment development in Georgia,” said Tracy Doran, the president of The Humanities Foundation. “Our funding partners have also shown great generosity and have given us the opportunity to build homes for seniors that go above and beyond apartment walls.”
Ashleigh Place offers several amenities for its residents, including a computer center, library, exercise room, arts-and-crafts room and community garden.
In addition, Ashleigh Place has a passenger bus “that will keep our residents on the go,” Doran said. Also, a food pantry van will deliver fresh, healthy food to the tenants on a regular basis.
“Since Humanities started our food-pantry program in the spring of last year, we have delivered more than 230,000 pounds of food to our residents,” Doran said.
Another benefit will be wellness screenings through a partnership with Armstrong State University and the Medical University of South Carolina. ASU nursing students will visit Ashleigh Place at least once a week and use Bluetooth technology to measure residents’ weight gain or loss, oxygen use, sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.
“The goal of this program is to enable our residents to live independently in their apartments as long as possible,” Doran said. “We all know that health problems are the biggest barrier to older adults remaining in their homes.”
The telemedicine program is one of a kind among senior-living communities, according to Doran. Telemedicine technology will enable Ashleigh Place residents to receive health screenings without leaving the neighborhood where they live, with the screening information sent electronically to their doctors.
“It’s personalized. It depends on what you need done, and then you’ll have those evaluations done very quickly,” said MUSC professor Dr. Frank Treiber. “We have the ability electronically to send all of this, synthesized, to your health-care provider to their electronic medical record or to a server file that they can access when needed — and you can access.”
Steve Doran, the vice president of public relations for The Humanities Foundation, thanked local leaders for supporting the development of Ashleigh Place. He introduced Fowler as the ceremony’s final guest speaker and then accompanied the mayor for the ribbon cutting.
“It takes vision and commitment on the part of leaders of each community to recognize that high-quality affordable housing plays an important role in the economic, cultural and societal heart of the community,” Doran said.
Tracy Doran concluded her remarks by asking all the Ashleigh Place residents to stand. Several people stood as the crowd applauded.
“We’d like to welcome you to your new home,” she said.