World’s coolest dorm?

Maintenance-free living for seniors coming to downtown Tempe

By Sherry Jackson

A 20-story building in downtown Tempe broke ground in February. But this high-rise won’t be for ASU college students. It’s geared towards a different kind of senior – those 62 and older.

Mirabella at ASU will offer maintenance-free living right in the heart at ASU’s campus at Mill Avenue and University Drive. The building is expected to be completed in 2020 and is already 80 percent sold. At the ground-breaking ceremony, ASU president Michael Crow called the project the “world’s coolest dorm.”

The concept is unique. Not only will residents be able to age in place, but they’ll also have an all-access pass to the university’s five-million-book library system, campus amenities and the ability to audit classes. The one- and two-bedroom apartments will feature private balconies with more than 50 different styles and range from 900 to 2,700 square feet.

“What makes Mirabella at ASU special is the relationship we have with ASU,” says Paul Riepma, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Oregon-based Pacific Retirement Services (PRS), the company leading the development. “Residents will be surrounded by arts and culture with Gammage and Herberger Theater. People who love urban living, the arts and life-long learning have found the location to be ideal.”

Riepma relocated from Seattle, where the company built a Mirabella community in 2008, to lead the effort.

ASU has always wanted to do this type of project, Riepma says. The university conducted a national search for a partner and chose Pacific Retirement Services for the company’s experience and recognition as a leader in the senior-service sector. This is the first time PRS has partnered with a university. “Each Mirabella we’ve built is unique and special, but Mirabella at ASU is a little bit different than anything we’ve ever done,” Riepma adds.

The minimum age for the “Life Plan” community is 62 and Mirabella offers a full continuum of care as residents age. “You’ve gotta be healthy and active to qualify,” Riepma says, but adds that as needs change, continuing health care will be provided. One floor is set aside for memory care for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. There will also be a floor for skilled nursing and rehabilitation, and another for assisted living.

Residents will pay a buy-in fee, of which 85 percent will be refunded to heirs upon the resident’s death. Currently that fee is set at $378,500 for a one-bedroom apartment to $810,200 for a two-bedroom penthouse. There’s also a monthly fee ranging from $4,195 to $5,570. While this may seem steep, the fee covers all utilities, housekeeping, dining, activities, shuttles and amenities, as well as access to assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing under a lifetime health care plan. Other pricing plans are available for those who opt out of the refund plan.

The building itself will be iconic, Riepma says. “It will be a 20-story shimmering glass tower. When people flying into Sky Harbor and look to the southeast, they will see that shimmering tower and wonder what it’s all about.”

Amenities at Mirabella will be plentiful and feature those typically found in other upscale active adult communities, including four restaurants ranging from a ground floor, casual bistro with outdoor seating to fine dining and a cocktail lounge. Residents will also enjoy a fitness and aquatic center with a heated saline pool, library, arts center with classrooms, woodworking shop, art studio and gallery, game rooms, salon and spa, concierge services and 300-seat auditorium/theater.

“It will be a very cool place to live,” Riepma says. “This is a more inter-generational experience for people who don’t necessarily want to live in a gated community on the golf course. There are people who get to this part of life and the idea of continuing to challenge yourself intellectually was a deciding factor to come to Mirabella.”

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