Two things have happened almost simultaneously in the Upper Valley, and both of them are of interest (or could be) to those of us of a certain age (my retirement from law teaching officially begins this Sunday, July 1), or to younger people who are wondering what to do about their aging parents. 1) In Lebanon NH, the only supermarket in the downtown area has closed. 2) In White River Junction VT, the end of construction is drawing near for The Village, an assisted-living and memory care complex that sits in the heart of White River; it plans to open for occupancy by September 1.
During a recent hard hat tour of the skinny 5-story Village (which I recommend), I learned that it is a next-generation facility that is taking a cue from the hospitality industry. With 30 percent more amenities than the national average, The Village philosophy and offerings match the demands of the aging boomer generation. There will be a state-of-the-art communal kitchen, a movie theater, restaurant-style dining (with ever-changing menus) plus a less formal snack bar for those who might want to grab and go. Pets are welcome, with on-site grooming for them AND for residents. Gardens and a rooftop terrace, an artist-in-residence. Windows with a view, especially the dining room and purpose rooms, stacked one on top of the other, that comprise the tall, narrow glass tower on the front corner of the building. It is said to be an iconic New England "lantern" because those rooms will always be visible and cozily lit even through the night. Yes, it is expensive—justifiably so—and for me, unfortunately, not suitable. The apartments are too small for me and other than a microwave and refrigerator, have no kitchens.
Undeniably, in my opinion, the two best features are the quirky sawtooth windows and above all, the location. Unlike other Upper Valley options that lie outside of our towns, The Village is in the center of a walkable, hip little village with theaters, shops and restaurants.
Which brings me back to the closing of the Lebanon Village Market. That's a prime piece of real estate in Lebanon, a town that is also walkable and hip, with an opera house, restaurants, AVA Gallery and the Upper Valley Music Center, a pedestrian mall of shops and Lucky's, formerly an historic gas station, now a buzzing coffee bar. And a walking/biking path with a new section about to open (stay tuned). Could we add to Lebanon NH's downtown a housing complex for somewhat wealthier seniors (or maybe mixed ages and incomes), who would relish spending money in local, able-to-walk-to, businesses? With a supermarket on the first floor?
Any developers interested? Call me. I have a million ideas and know exactly the kind of setting and apartment I'd pay for. And I could stay in Lebanon, and spend my golden years walking to AVA Gallery openings and the new Thai restaurant, exercising my library card, learning to knit at Scratch and sipping a cortado at Lucky's.
It sounds like the perfect retirement.
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