Village Filling As Building Begins

    GRAND RAPIDS — Less than two months after its groundbreaking, and slightly more than a year from its completion, about half the space in the new Covenant Village of the Great Lakes is committed.

    The 105-unit independent living complex for retirees — together with its community center — is being constructed on the village campus in the city’s northwest section. It lies on Lake Michigan Drive just west of its intersection with Covell Avenue.

    The building is being erected on the south side of the community’s 30-acre campus, overlooking one of the last large stands of timber in northwest Grand Rapids.

    And according to Deborah May, the firm’s marketing director, when the two wings of the village are fully committed to what are called “life service contracts,” Covenant Village will undertake construction of an 82-unit addition to the building.

    The project is part of a continuous care program for seniors who elect to live and participate in it. In that respect it is similar to another recently completed seniors’ village in the Holland Home program

    As an elderly resident ages and comes to require greater degrees of care, he or she moves into the program’s assisted living component, and so forth.

    May told the Business Journal that Covenant Village was founded in a single house for elderly people 116 years ago in Chicago. She said it is the oldest such program in the country.

    Covenant Retirement Communities also is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit retirement community organizations.

    May explained that the Grand Rapids village is one of 15 such villages that the Covenant Retirement Communities Inc. operates nationally on behalf of the Board of Benevolence of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

    She said that though Covenant Village was established by a parish of the Covenant Evangelical Church, inclusion in the program has no religious requirement and is, in fact, interdenominational.

    Dwelling units in the $16 million project being built by Pioneer Construction will range from 675-square-foot one-bedroom models to 1,305-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bath deluxe residences. 

    Each of the dwellings will feature a balcony, patio or enclosed porch to expand living space outdoors.

    The project was designed by Post Associates, a Grand Rapids architectural firm.

    The designers called for the building to be stepped from two stories in the front to three stories toward the timberland in back so as to blend with the single-family residences in the neighborhood and offer residents attractive views. 

    The exterior facade will be brick and siding.

    The building’s residential wings will connect to a 34,000-square-foot two-story community center that is to serve as both the physical and social hub of the village.

    The community’s main dining room, a coffee shop, game room, general store, creative arts center and library will be located on the center’s main floor. The main floor also will have office space for residents and will house the village’s own administrative offices.

    The center’s lower level will house a chapel, bank branch, post office, a pool, children’s playroom, hair salon and several classrooms. 

    The lower level will also be the focal point for the community’s wellness program, which will include a jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, exercise room and health club café. 

    A deck will bridge indoor facilities to outdoor activity options, including planned walking trails.

    Covenant Village currently operates an 82-unit assisted living residence on the campus that provides both physical and memory-loss support. 

    The structure is separate from the independent living center now under construction.

    The continuing care retirement community has partnered with local nursing centers to provide skilled nursing care.

    The second phase of the independent living development will add 82 dwellings to the complex, bringing the total number of dwellings to 187.

    More information about the Covenant Village of the Great Lakes is available by calling 735-4541, or toll free at (888) 655-0165, or by visiting

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