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Merrill Gardens officially breaks ground; facility set to open next year


Elizabeth Medora

ANTHEM – Over 100 people attended a July 29 groundbreaking ceremony for the new retirement facility Merrill Gardens. The audience sampled food from Merrill Gardens’ chefs and examined site plans and amenities information for the new facility. Several audience members also participated in the groundbreaking, digging with souvenir golden shovels that they took home if desired.

The Merrill Gardens facility has a planned completion date of summer 2016. Reservations are scheduled to start being accepted in the next several months.

Bill Pettit, President R.D. Merrill Company (parent company of Merrill Gardens); Chad Lorentz, Principal, Urbal Architecture; Lew Rees, Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce; and Tim Fyke, Anthem Community Council President, all spoke at the groundbreaking.

Rees noted that Merrill Gardens will be employing over 60 people, calling the new facility a “vital business engine.”

Council president Fyke noted that having this facility here would help keep families together and that residents had been enthusiastic about the idea.

“Merrill Gardens is going to make this spot a gorgeous location in our community,” Fyke said.

Merrill Company president Pettit spoke next.

“Families are what Merrill is all about,” emphasized Pettit. He noted that is a 130-year-old company.

“What you’ll see here will be one of our best communities,” he said. Pettit said that Merrill Gardens is “focused on lifestyle.”

“We don't want seniors to have to change their lives when they move into our community,” he said. “We want them to enjoy an environment that is rich with daily activities.”

Pettit called groundbreaking ceremonies on new Merrill Gardens’ facilities “one of my favorite times.”

“We get to start moving dirt!” Pettit said.

The attendance of the July 29 ceremony was the “biggest turn out that we’ve had in a new community,” Pettit noted.

“Anthem is a unique community,” Pettit said, adding that the first time he saw Anthem, he “recognized it as a jewel.”

Architect Lorentz discussed what sets apart an Urbal Architecture project like Merrill Gardens at Anthem. He described Urbal as both “urban and rural.” Urbal projects, Lorentz said, first and foremost, are designed to make the quality of life better for residents. These projects also are made to fit with the surrounding community and blend with the scenery.

Lorentz defined Merrill Gardens at Anthem as a “state-of-the-art senior community center.” He noted that the two-story, 127-apartment building will have 18,000 sq. ft. of common space and parking for 81 cars.

“What Merrill Gardens wants to do is create a center of activity and community,” Lorentz said, outlining planned amenities. The new facility will have a tech center, wine bar, bistro area, happy hour, open dining room, open kitchen area, theater, wellness center, and an activity room with a director. The building will be focused around a courtyard with a large pool and lounge areas with shade and misters. The outdoor area will also have a bocce court and walking paths.

Lorentz noted that studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments will be offered. Each apartment will have a full kitchen with range and a washer and dryer. Rooms will be equipped with easy-entry showers and emergency call buttons.

“This community will allow seniors to stay in the area and allow adult children to bring mom and dad closer,” Lorentz said. “This is very much going to be able to become home.”

See more about Merrill Gardens at w