Nearly four years in the works, vast renovation includes new state-of-the-art John L. Levinsohn Center for Dynamic Aging.

The new entryway and lobby of the The Redwoods. Courtesy images.

Fifteen months ago, the $32 million overhaul of the vast campus of The Redwoods, Mill Valley’s community of seniors, entered a new phase and neared the home stretch of the multi-year Revitalization Project. The finish line is now in sight.

On June 25, Redwoods residents, friends, family and community members will gather to celebrate the completion of the nearly four-year restoration and modernization project and to mark the organization’s 45th anniversary. The Redwoods, a not-for-profit senior community founded in 1972 by the Community Church of Mill Valley, provides multi-level, affordable rental housing, services and care to 340 low- and moderate income seniors from across the SF Bay Area and beyond. The revitalization, which began in late 2013.

“The Redwoods has long been one of the jewels in the crown of Mill Valley,” says Claire McAuliffe, president of The Redwoods board of directors. “But the jewel was over 40 years old and in great need of restoration and modernization.  Now, it’s a lovely diamond – a modern campus for both today’s seniors and future generations.”

“Today, we’re not only celebrating the completion of this project,” reported Barbara Solomon, CEO, “but our incredible residents, who patiently lived through almost four years of construction. It wasn’t easy for them, but with their support, we did it! We are also celebrating the $2.6 million contributed by generous community members as part of our capital campaign, as well as the support of the City of Mill Valley.”

Redwoods officials point to the $3.5 million John L. Levinsohn Center for Dynamic Aging as a key feature of the renovated facility, calling it “the only one of its kind at a non-profit senior community in the area, (providing) a range of wellness activities for the residents. The center includes an aquatic center with therapy pool and hot tub; massage rooms; exercise equipment with new technology that is specifically designed to enhance safety for seniors; and a health and wellness library with computers. The general services, which include wellness evaluations, exercise classes, strength training, dance, and chair yoga, as well as access to the facility, are free to Redwoods residents.

The 5,000 square foot center, which cost $3.5 million to construct, was named for John L. Levinson, age 96, a former Redwoods board president. Levinsohn and his family donated a portion of funds for the Center in recognition of the importance of physical activity for seniors; Levinsohn himself enjoyed race walking until he was 90.  

“There is no question of the importance of physical activity to the health and well-being of seniors,” says Margaret N. Harrington, M.D., member of The Redwoods board of directors. “Just four to five hours of moderate exercise a week has been shown to keep aging people “able” an entire decade longer. Exercise at this level is associated with less heart disease, less mental decline, less cancer, less depression, less insomnia. People feel better, have more endurance and fewer falls.  Nothing in the medical realm comes close to improving one’s well-being as much as one can do on their own with just a little discipline and effort.”

The Revitalization Project also included the following:

  • Modernized and rehabilitated Independent Living Units
  • State-of-the art commercial kitchen three times the size of the previous kitchen
  • Fully modernized dining room, with a new approach offering restaurant-style dining
  • A new lobby, living room, and library
  • Renovated auditorium, and consignment shop
  • New entry and parking to enhance access and safety
  • Sustainable campus grounds and systems  – solar energy, native plants and more

“The Redwoods has been transformed,” reports resident Elizabeth Merriman, age 80. “It is not only beautiful and more modern, but easier to navigate and has many more safety features – but at the same time preserves the cozy, comfortable feeling that we all love about our home. The renovated apartments are wonderful, and I can’t wait to use the new Wellness Center!

“This was more than just a campus upgrade,” concluded Solomon. “Seniors and their families want the best possible retirement experience. Revitalization was about better meeting the needs of today’s seniors – who are active, vital and engaged. It is also about creating a community that will be attractive to future generations of seniors– including Baby Boomers.”

The 411: MORE INFO on The Redwoods.

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