Sable Lodge, on Executive Drive, adds a large apartment project to the mix in the Maine Mall area.

Nearly two years ago, Resort Lifestyle Communities, based in Nebraska, announced its plan to build an upscale, $30 million, three-story, 128-unit congregate housing project for those 55 and older off Running Hill Road in South Portland.

The project, now called Sable Lodge, broke ground last week with a ceremony that included a number of officials from South Portland, including Mayor Tom Blake, Don Gerrish, the interim city manager, and Josh Reny, the assistant city manager and economic development director.

The approval process for the project included a zone change on the almost 10-acre building site on Executive Drive, plus special permitting from the Planning Board. Now, depending on the weather, Resort Lifestyle Communities hopes to have the facility up and running by late summer or early fall of 2017.

The project is the first in Maine for Resort Lifestyle Communities, which offers its residents an all-inclusive style of living, including 24-hour dining, 24-hour concierge services, weekly housekeeping, valet parking, a 150-seat movie theater, fitness center, a library, coffee shop and more.

In addition, the facilities all boast live-in managers, activities and lifestyle managers, transportation for those who no longer drive and day trips. Each unit also includes a full kitchen, washer and dryer hook-ups and patio and balcony options. The congregate housing communities are also pet friendly, and the monthly rent includes all water, electric, gas and cable television fees.

In introducing the project to the Planning Board in December 2014, Josh Thornton, vice president of development for Cameron General Contractors, which builds and owns and operates all of the Resort Lifestyle Communities across the country, said “in-depth market analysis” showed that “southern Maine is in need of a facility like this. There is absolutely a demand and there is overwhelming evidence that a project of our type is needed.”

Following the groundbreaking ceremony, held on Sept. 15, Reny said, “Overall, this is a great project, and we appreciate their investment in (the city).” He said “(We’re also) looking forward to the ribbon cutting (with) construction already off to a good start.”

In addition to all the in-house amenities and services that Resort Lifestyle Communities offer, Reny noted that the company is “also looking to partner with local businesses that will have regular office hours on-site, including a bank or credit union, a pharmacy and other services.”

In a press release announcing the groundbreaking, Resort Lifestyle Communities said the “all-inclusive monthly rents for studio, 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments are competitively priced with no buy-in fee.”

In the press release, the company also said it would “provide an array of significant long-term benefits to the South Portland area,” including creating 40 local jobs.

Kelly Jo Hinrichs, the spokeswoman for Resort Lifestyle Communities, said this week that the Sable Lodge name was derived from the adjacent Sable Oaks Golf Club, adding that “we feel lodge is descriptive of our all-inclusive, luxury retirement community.”

While mixing housing with the overall commercial and retail vibe of the western end of South Portland may not seem logical, Hinrichs said, “In our detailed search for successful locations, the state of Maine and South Portland in particular stood out, not only for the demographics, the number of seniors that will benefit from having a community like ours, but also the tremendous quality of life for them to enjoy.”

She said, “You can’t beat the lobster rolls and beautiful scenery throughout the region. Seniors want to stay here, and retire here where they can have wonderful outdoor options like the ocean, parks and great trails. We look forward to being part of this great community.”

Hinrichs said what sets Sable Lodge apart from other retirement communities in the area is “the lifestyle we provide for our residents. We have been in the business of serving seniors for more than 16 years and have found that our residents enjoy the all-inclusive lifestyle so they can relax and enjoy their time doing the things they want to do instead of focusing on things (like) cooking, cleaning, maintenance, paying the bills and driving.”

She added, “We believe that true independent living means having flexibility and choices and that all starts with our outstanding Freedom Dining program (as well as a) full, daily schedule of activities and events to choose from. We will have a full-time lifestyle director who will build a calendar every month filled with things that our local residents will enjoy.”

Those activities, according to Hinrichs, would include arts and crafts, lectures, clubs such as gardening, walking or bridge, games, local volunteer work and day trips.

“We also will have a state-of-the-art, 150-seat movie theater that will host movie afternoons and evenings, live entertainment, large sporting event parties, lectures and even church services,” she said.

Overall, Hinrichs said, “Our prices represent a tremendous value when everything is taken into account and the families of our residents get to experience peace of mind, knowing that their loved ones are in a safe, secure and thriving environment.”

A big crowd was on hand for the groundbreaking for the new Sable Lodge resort retirement community last week, including South Portland Mayor Tom Blake and interim City Manager Don Gerrish.

This is an out-of-state Resort Lifestyles Community project. South Portland will be the company’s first Maine location.

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