Peconic Landing is putting the finishing touches on a $44 million expansion and upgrade, set to officially open with a celebration event on Thursday.
The long-anticipated expansion — plans were in the works but put on hold after the 2007-2008 economic downturn — is the first new construction on the sprawling 144-acre Soundfront campus since the community opened in 2002. It took about 18 months to complete.
The project adds 16 skilled nursing rehabilitation suites, bringing the total to 60, 16 assisted living special memory care suites to the Peconic Landing health center, 46 residential apartments, a new art studio fitness center and classrooms. The existing spaces were also touched up and redecorated in the same light, airy interior decor.
“This is a beachfront community and we wanted to reflect that in all our spaces throughout,” said president and CEO Robert Syron yesterday during a pre-opening tour of the new facilities. “It was important that the transition between the existing spaces and the new construction be seamless,” Styron said. “We didn’t want a situation where there was an ‘old’ and a ‘new’ — and we wanted to upgrade our amenities for all of our residents.
The upgrades include a refurbished and redecorated front lobby, auditorium and bistro, along with ancillary on-site amenities like the hair salon/barber shop, mail room, BNB bank branch, and convenience shop.
A new state-of-the-art fitness facility — complete with juice bar, lounge area, aerobics studio and massage room — boasts high-tech hydraulic gym equipment operated by an individually programmed smart card issued to residents after a one-on-one profile is completed by one of the three personal trainers on staff. When the card is inserted into each piece of equipment, its computer automatically sets the weight and displays the number of reps and sets to be completed.
“It’s safe — there are no weights to drop or pick up, which often causes injuries — and the individual’s progress is recorded with each workout,” said fitness manager Carmine Arpaia, as he showed off the machines. “There are so many benefits to working out, especially as we age,” he said. “Posture and strength reduce falls — and broken bones.”
Joanne Barrett, a retired IBM executive, said she had never worked out before moving to Peconic Landing, but has become a regular in the fitness room, where she exercises faithfully three times a week for 30 minutes.
Arpaia said 19 people came to the facility and set up their cards in the first couple hours after a town hall meeting conducted by Syron and other Peconic Landing staff members yesterday morning.
There’s also a brand-new art studio, where an expanded roster of group classes in various media will be conducted. The residents already have their art displayed all over the campus.
“There is a lot of amazing talent in this community,” marketing director Laurelle Cassone said. “There are many accomplished artists and then there are people who never picked up a paint brush before who have discovered a new passion and an innate talent they never knew they had. It’s wonderful to see that happen,” she said.
Peconic Landing offers residents just about every amenity and activity imaginable, but the core of their mission is providing a safe, healthy environment with the appropriate level of high-quality care, as needed, for all members of its community.
Syron is particularly proud of the path it has taken with its memory support center — the East End’s first — and its “resort-style” rehabilitative care center, both brand new with the construction of the health center.
“We used the best evidence-based studies in the world, did years of research and built around that,” Syron said as he showed off the health center facilities yesterday. “Design and construction were driven by the program, not the other way around,” he said.
“Our residents are not defined by their diagnosis,” said executive vice president Gregory Garrett. Utilizing an interview dubbed the “life story,” Peconic Landing team members get beyond the diagnosis to who the person is, “what makes them tick.”
“While safety is of course important, Garrett said, our main goal here is purpose,” he said.
“Everybody has a purpose when they wake up in the morning. We want to identify what gives each person purpose and identify their best capabilities.”
A sensory garden is being completed with plants selected with assistance from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Each has a different feel and stimulates a different sensation, said head groundskeeper Vinny Tirelli. People with cognitive impairment lose sensation in their fingers, he explained.
The garden walking surface is cushioned to minimize injury in the event of a fall.
The rehab center has a therapy room for physical, occupational and speech therapy and an “outdoor gym” that has different surfaces to help people who are recovering from orthopedic surgeries or strokes practice negotiating the environment they will encounter after they go home.
The expansion created about 60 new permanent jobs, bringing its workforce up to 300 or more, Syron said. It is the second-largest employer in Southold Town.
Peconic Landing provides a rewarding career path for local residents, with team members given the opportunity for education and advancement, Syron noted with pride. Both Cassone and assisted living administrator Jennifer Ackroyd are examples of many “local success stories” on the Peconic Landing team, he said — people who started out as interns or in lower level positions and moved up the career ladder.
Both women said yesterday they probably would not be living on the North Fork had they not found a career at Peconic Landing.
“Besides being a mother, this is the single-most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Cassone said.
SoutholdLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti