New personal, memory care community planned for Bethlehem Township

Rendering of the Birches of the Lehigh Valley, which is being built in Bethlehem Township. SUBMITTED –

A groundbreaking will soon be held on a new personal and memory care community in Bethlehem Township. 

Heritage Senior Living LLC of Blue Bell said it plans to build the facility at 5030 Freemansburg Avenue in the township. Berks Ridge will be managing the construction. 

The community will be known as the Birches of Lehigh Valley and will have 93 units with 52 designated for personal care and 41 for memory care. 

The company said it expects to hire around 90 people to work at the community when complete. 

Opening on the 57,654-square-foot community is expected for fall 2023. 

The location is approximately eight miles from The Birches’ sister community, Traditions of Hanover, and is roughly a mile from St Luke’s University Health Network’s Anderson Campus. 

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to bring personal care and memory care to the Lehigh Valley, where we have an established reputation for a caring culture thanks to Traditions of Hanover,” said Kevin McCollum, the president of Heritage Senior Living LLC. “The Birches will provide a wonderful extension of services to support seniors across the Lehigh Valley who need assistance or have memory loss.” 

According to McCollum, the Birches of Lehigh Valley will not require a buy-in fee. Seniors can choose from a variety of apartment styles, including studios and deluxe studios, one-bedroom and companion suites. 

The monthly rent includes 24-hour personal care assistance, three meals a day, life enrichment programing, housekeeping, laundry services, transportation to medical appointments and group outings, maintenance, utilities and other community amenities. 

Heritage Senior Living LLC manages 19 senior living communities throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia.  


Phoebe breaks ground on Emmaus senior living campus

Phoebe Ministries holds a ceremonial groundbreaking on Chestnut Ridge at Rodale. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Phoebe Ministries broke ground Monday on Chestnut Ridge at Rodale, a 60+ wellness-focused community located on the 38-acre site of the former Rodale Publishing campus in Emmaus.  

“We are so excited to have Phoebe Ministries as a part of the Borough of Emmaus,” said Emmaus’ Mayor Lee Ann Gilbert. “Chestnut Ridge at Rodale will be a tremendous asset to seniors who want to remain independent and enjoy everything the Borough offers.” 

Phobe Ministries purchased the property from the Rodale family in 2018,  

Chestnut Ridge at Rodale will feature 126 apartments located in two buildings uniquely designed by RLPS Architects and constructed by Wohlsen Construction Co. 

The project will turn the Rodale North Building into a three-story structure that will feature one-and two-bedroom apartments surrounding a center courtyard. The newly constructed South Building will be a four-story horseshoe-shaped building with a grand courtyard, outdoor entertainment space and views of South Mountain. 

 “We’ve had tremendous support from the surrounding community in purchasing and developing this lifestyle-focused independent living community,” said Scott Stevenson, president and CEO of Phoebe Ministries. “The Phoebe community couldn’t be more excited to finally, officially,­ break ground here in Emmaus.“ 

Phoebe plans to continue Rodale’s legacy of wellness by maintaining and enhancing the outdoor walking and biking trails intertwined with the natural green space currently on the campus. 

Other amenities will include in-home smart technology controls, casual restaurant dining, including a pub, a fitness center, salon, pool, bike storage and dog wash. 

 Chestnut Ridge at Rodale already has 78 depositors who anticipate moving onto the campus in the Summer of 2023.  

A Conversation with Mary Kay McMahon, president and CEO of Fellowship Community in Whitehall

Mary Kay McMahon

LVB: Tell me about the different types of living options that exist on the Fellowship Community campus?

McMahon: Fellowship Community is a senior living community that offers a continuum of services. This variety allows seniors to remain within our community as they age and their needs change. Our beautiful independent living single-story townhomes and apartments allow residents to enjoy a very active lifestyle. They may be as socially engaged as they choose with access to dining, activities and entertainment. There is comfort in knowing that should they need short- or long-term care, they have priority access on campus.

Our health services, which are also available to the local community, include assisted personal care, memory support and skilled nursing care.  Personal care residents are provided 24/7 assistance by specially-trained and dedicated nursing staff.  Socialization and activity engagement are also important components which add purpose in their lives. Fellowship offers a secure memory care unit with specially trained skilled professionals who care for our residents with Alzheimer’s or related dementias.

Fellowship Manor, our skilled nursing facility, has received the Joint Commission Gold Seal for its comprehensive and outstanding short-term rehabilitation and nursing care services. It has achieved Joint Commission Accreditation in post-acute care, memory care and a disease specific certification in heart failure care. Residents receive professional medical, nursing and rehabilitation care 24/7.

LVB: Why is that a benefit to your residents?

McMahon: When you move to Fellowship Community, you know that we’re here to help you as your needs change. Moving through our continuum of care is an ideal arrangement. You can rely on us, giving you peace of mind with much less stress and worry.  It’s a priceless benefit to living here.

LVB: What other kind of support services does the community offer?

McMahon: Our holistic wellness program provides fitness programming, education, activities, nutrition and assistance that allow our independent living residents to age well by focusing on enriching their minds, bodies and spirit. Our robust maintenance, housekeeping and grounds services also provide our residents the time to enjoy the things that really feed their souls without worrying about doing household chores.

LVB: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your operations? Are things starting to return to normal?

McMahon: The past year has been very stressful and unfortunately, we saw the worst of what the COVID virus had to offer. However, I believe that the resilience of our residents and the dedication of our staff made a truly terrible situation a labor of love. We ultimately prevailed by trusting in each other. During the pandemic we had to pivot our operations at times on a weekly basis to keep up with changing guidance and the situation.

However, one of the more difficult challenges our residents faced was social isolation from family and friends. We knew we could never replace their families but we loved and cared for each resident and paid personal attention to them. Our activities department went into overdrive coming up with creative, physically-distanced ideas to keep residents engaged and family connected.

With over 95% of our residents vaccinated, we are cautiously optimistic as we slowly reopen our care areas. Visitation, group activities and dining have resumed per state guidelines, improving morale for residents and creating a sense of normalcy. We are breathing a big sigh of relief as it definitely feels like we are gaining momentum and moving in the right direction.

Residents start moving into completed senior living community

On Dec. 13, the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of The Village at LifeQuest. (Photos by Brian Pedersen) –

Now that the assisted living portion of The Village at LifeQuest is now open, residents have started moving in.

And on Dec. 13, the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening.

The newly constructed community is part of a massive $300 million mixed-use project that incorporates health care, residential and retail uses in Milford Township off Route 663 east of the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Quakertown.

While the 123-unit senior living community is complete, future development at the site includes regular and age-restricted apartment living, as well as space for retail, professional office and restaurants on 261 acres.

The project will include an expansion of the LifeQuest Nursing Center.

It’s all part of developer Del Markward’s master plan to create a project that allows for the interaction of different age groups in an intergenerational community.

“It’s a change in aging for seniors,” said Roger Hiser, president of LifeQuest in a statement. “It’s affordable, nutritious, social and respectful.”

The assisted living community has a 141 resident capacity and can accommodate 140 at the nursing center next door, said Shane McGuire, chief financial officer at LifeQuest. Overall, LifeQuest employs about 340 people across its different locations, he added.

The first resident moved in on Nov. 15 and The Village at LifeQuest has five assisted living residents so far, with a sixth one moving into the 140,000-square-foot facility on Tuesday, McGuire said.

The assisted living building includes a main dining room, continental café, salon and spa, fitness center, bistro, bar with a small kitchen, library, physician room and one-bedroom suite for guests, he said.

The building also offers nurses on staff around the clock, McGuire said.

As a rental community, The Village at LifeQuest offers care to residents at both the fully independent and assisted living levels.

Daily rates for apartments are $135 for a studio, $145 for a one-bedroom, and two-bedroom companion apartments for $128 per person.

The project also received some funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for the assisted living portion since the federal agency considers the property a rural community.

“I do think the economic development, increasing workforce, and sustaining jobs is huge,” said Danielle Bodnar, executive director of the Upper Bucks Chamber. “I know it’s important for community members and chamber members to have a place to call home.”

She said the development could also help with the improvements people are seeing on Route 663.

“I think it’s helpful to improving infrastructure in this region,” Bodnar said. “With the growth, they are making improvements to this area and we think that’s beneficial as well.”


First two phases of active adult community now complete

Morningstar Living of Nazareth celebrated the completion of the first two phases of Heritage Village, an active adult community in Upper Nazareth Township. (Submitted) –

The growth of the baby boomer generation and the lack of available space at its Nazareth continuous care retirement community prompted one local not-for-profit to start construction on a new active adult community in May 2017.

Now, two-and-a-half years later, Morningstar Living of Nazareth celebrated the completion of the first two phases of Heritage Village, an active adult community that’s been in various stages of planning and development for almost a decade in Upper Nazareth Township.

On Dec. 6, officials hosted a dedication celebration for the Heritage Village houses it completed so far, in addition to the completion of The Cooper Center, a multi-purpose building it named after Susan Cooper Drabic, president and CEO of Morningstar Living.

Morningstar owns and operates Moravian Hall Square in Nazareth as well as Senior Solutions, a home care and certified care management business, in addition to Heritage Village.

Situated on more than 50 acres off West Beil Avenue in Upper Nazareth Township, Heritage Village will include a mix of townhouses and cottages for people ages 60 and older, and will take several more years to complete construction for the additional houses. Once the entire project is complete, it will be home to almost 300 people.

In addition, officials said residents not only have access to an active adult lifestyle at the Heritage Village campus but can also participate in a continuum of health care services provided to them by Moravian Hall Square, a nearby continuous care community.

Looking back at last year, the project hit a significant milestone in April 2018 when, according to officials, Cooper Drabic cut the ribbon on the first cottage occupied by a Heritage Village resident.

Phase one of the project included 19 cottages built as a traditional neighborhood, said Sue Capobianco, chief marketing officer for Morningstar Living.

In addition, a local company, Blue Valley Builders of Moore Township, was the construction firm that built the houses for phase one, she said.

Phase two included 15 additional cottages and 12 townhouses and The Cooper Center, Capobianco said.

Benchmark Construction of Lancaster County built the townhouses, which Morningstar Living named the Heritage Townstones. They occupy two buildings — The Yale and The Harvard, Capobianco said.

For the two phases, the estimated construction cost is $32 million, she said.

Morningstar Living has four more phases to sell and construct and the organization has pre-sold almost 70 percent of its houses for phase three, Capobianco said.

“We are in the business of building lifestyles that enable people to live life well,” Capobianco said.

The organization built The Cooper Center to be a hub for recreation and fitness. In addition to an outdoor pool, fire pit, and pickelball court, the center offers an indoor fitness center, pub, full-service kitchen, lounge and other amenities.

She described the community as having homes in close proximity to each other to facilitate socialization and provide the look and feel of a 55 and older community but with a focus on having an active lifestyle.

Cooper Drabic described Heritage Village as a true example of a traditional neighborhood development that strived to preserve green space and create a place of enjoyment.

“Phase one residents have bonded,” Cooper Drabic said.

The homes are all accessible without steps or stairs, she added.

The topography of the land also created challenges for the development, since one side had a 60-foot vertical grade and the other had a 100-foot vertical grade, which meant lots of dirt movement, according to Phil Malitsch, a partner with Hanover Engineering Associates Inc., based in Hanover Township, Northampton County. His company was the site engineer for the project.

“This project has been a career changer for us,” Malitsch said. “It took a lot of cooperation internally with our project team.”

He also said it took a lot of cooperation with the township, as the development required numerous permits and several major amendments as the site plan changed.

Malitsch said this project allowed him to evolve, as Morningstar hired him for it in 2008 when he was 25 and phase three and four construction is going on now.

Chris Brown, owner of Brown Design Corp. in Allentown served as the landscape architect and said Heritage Village was a career-defining project for him as well, since it allowed him to take on the role of a project coordinator and he’s been able to apply these skills to other projects.

Morningstar’s internal professional staff completed the interior design of the homes, with assistance from DesignPoint Inc. of Hanover Township, Northampton County, said Capobianco.

Cooper Drabic said Morningstar Living named the community Heritage Village because there is so much history and heritage traced back to the land. She said Morningstar Living plans to install a history wall in The Cooper Center that depicts the Moravian connection the place.



$14M new community center focuses on healthy living

The leaders of a senior living campus in Doylestown marked the opening of a new community center.

Pine Run Retirement Community marked the grand opening if its new $14 million community center in Doylestown. (Submitted) –

Pine Run Retirement Community, owned by Doylestown Health, completed the $14 million project that involved building a new community center in two phases after a groundbreaking in spring 2017.

The two-story, 37,000-square-foot building includes a pool, fitness center and bar and grill, with all amenities open to both the retirement community and the Pine Run staff, which is 600 employees, said Maria Santangelo, executive director at Pine Run.

The first phase of construction included three indoor and two outdoor dining galleries overlooking the pond as well as a café. The second phase included an expanded fitness center with new equipment, space for classes, an indoor pool and a 175-seat auditorium. In addition, the center has a library, computer nook, living room with fireplace, a hair and nail salon and a country store.

Designed by AG Architecture of Wisconsin and built by Gorski Engineering of Collegeville, the center uses environmentally friendly green materials to reduce energy costs. The site incorporates a rain garden with plantings, a greenhouse, and a pond with new landscaping.

“We could not take our old building down because it had a dining venue,” Santangelo said. “Once that was completed, we were able to knock down our old venue and build new.”

The Pine Run Community Center is also open to the outside community for catered events, she added.

“Healthy living is the overreaching thought, using those resources to promote healthy living,” Santangelo said. “We built this building with the understanding that we would become the destination for senior living. The way to do that is to provide amenities they need and expect.”

These include upscale dining, fitness, and life enrichment activities, she said.

Pine Run offers a continuum of care setting. The organization has 106 residents in personal care, 90 in skilled nursing, 40 residents in memory care and 342 in independent living, she said.

Part of the funding for the community center came from Pine Run’s One Vision Campaign, a fundraiser that seeks to raise $75 million by 2023. So far, the organization raised a little more than $60 million, she said.

The majority of the funding for the community center came from Doylestown Hospital, Santangelo said.

Two other new nearby Doylestown Health construction projects are nearing completion. One project is the Cardiovascular and Critical Care Pavilion, housing the Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care. Ron Watson, spokesperson for Doylestown Health System, said the hospital would start moving patients to the cardiovascular floor on Jan. 2.

The other project is the Ambulatory Center on the health system’s flagship campus, with its same-day surgery center, orthopedic offices and rehabilitation facilities, which will be finished in summer 2020, he said.

Retirement community expands in Bethlehem

Senior living continues to be a strong market in the Lehigh Valley, as evidenced by an expansion of an existing 55 and older community in Bethlehem.

Moravian Village is embarking on an expansion of Market Street Cottages, a project under construction by Bracy Construction Inc. of South Whitehall Township.

Moravian Village is embarking on an expansion of Market Street Cottages, a project under construction in Bethlehem by Bracy Construction Inc. (Photo by Brian Pedersen) –

Joe Jackson, project manager for Bracy Construction, said the project should be finished by spring.

Workers are constructing four buildings, with two townhouse units in each. Each building is 6,700 square feet, including the basements, but not including the garages, he said.

The townhouses have two bedrooms and one bathroom in each.

“Most of the people purchasing the units are fitting out the basements as well,” Jackson said.

He said workers spent a lot of time removing unsuitable soils and are now working on the foundations and utilities and will soon start framing the units.

Brad Senick, COO at Bethlehem Area Moravians, part of the Moravian Development Corp., said the community would have 113 cottages upon completion of the project.

“We obviously have the demand for additional units,” Senick said. He described the new units as similar to what already exists, but with some minor revisions.

He declined to disclose the estimated construction cost.

Lenhardt Rodgers Architects and Interiors of Fort Washington is the architect for the project.





Fellowship Community names new leader

Fellowship Community of Whitehall Township named Mary Kay McMahon, a local health care leader, as the organization’s new president and CEO. McMahon previously served as the senior vice president of health care services with Phoebe Ministries of Allentown.

She assumed her new role on Monday, taking over for Robert Erland, interim president and CEO and chairperson of the board of directors of Fellowship Community.

Fellowship Community of Whitehall Township hired Mary Kay McMahon as president and CEO. (Submitted) –

Robert Zentz, 81, had served as the leader of the organization for more than 22 years and retired in the summer because of health concerns. Zentz passed away in October.

McMahon said she is looking to build upon and expand the organization.

At Fellowship Community, McMahon oversees an organization that has 360 employees and about 500 residents.

The health care campus provides Christ-centered care for seniors and includes independent living and townhouses, along with services for personal care, nursing care and memory care.

“I looked at it as a fantastic career opportunity for me,” McMahon said. “It was opportunity to lead what I believe and feel is a great organization.”

She said she served at Phoebe Ministries for 23 years and is looking forward to serving more seniors in need at Fellowship Community.

McMahon said she would also like to see if there’s a way to change how to serve the new generation of seniors.

“I think baby boomers have higher expectations than the silent generation,” McMahon said. “I think affordability is one of them, especially for independent living.”

These seniors also have concerns about what amenities, activities and dining options are available, she added.

Aside from providing leadership, she is looking to work with people within the organization and the larger community to design and develop a business strategy for expanding the services Fellowship Community provides.

“I absolutely enjoy everything about what I do,” McMahon said. “I have a tremendous opportunity. I love the people that I get to work with, the various departments that I oversee. I love the residents that we serve. I really like the responsibility of that.”

A licensed registered nurse, McMahon also is a licensed nursing home administrator.

She has worked in a number of roles in health care, including as executive director of Phoebe Berks, nursing home administrator and director of nursing of Phoebe Richland and assistant director of nursing at Phoebe Allentown.

McMahon said she began her career with Allentown Osteopathic Hospital as a medical surgical nurse, critical care staff nurse and critical care nurse manager.

She has also earned some statewide recognition for her work in the health care field.

Leading AgePA, a Cumberland County-based trade association for nonprofit aging services, named McMahon Leading AgePA Leader of the Year for 2013. She also serves on several health care boards in addition to the advisory council of Lehigh County Aging and Adult Services.

She received her nursing diploma from Pittston Hospital School of Nursing and earned a bachelor’s degree in health arts and a master’s degree in health services from the College of St. Francis.