The executive director of The Club at Briarcliff Manor expects the first residents to be moving into the luxury senior living facility in a few weeks.
“In early summer, either late June or July, we’ll probably be receiving our first residents,” John V. Muzio Jr. told the Business Journal at the club’s welcome center. Muzio’s appointment to the post of executive director was announced in April.
While construction on the repurposed 59-acre Briarcliff Lodge property at 25 Scarborough Road in Briarcliff Manor has continued, potential residents were being introduced to the project through audiovisual and other presentations at the welcome center. The senior living community for those 55 and older is being developed by Senior Lifestyle Corp., which is based in Chicago and operates residential facilities for senior citizens in 23 states. Muzio pointed out that this one is different, in part, because of the rich history surrounding the property.
Walter Law, who was a wealthy vice president of the W&J Sloane furniture company in New York City, retired in 1899 and bought a large piece of property in Westchester County, which included what would later become the village of Briarcliff Manor. He established a dairy farm and later built Briarcliff Lodge, the first hotel in Westchester, on part of his property.
“He wanted his affluent guests to come up from the city and enjoy winter sports, summer sports, hunting, skiing, things like that, and it was a beautiful Tudor-style building and he was a visionary,” Muzio said.
Law created a bottled water called Briarcliff Water and expanded Briarcliff Lodge from the original 93 rooms to 222 rooms. The lodge remained popular even after Law’s death in 1924. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, J.P. Morgan, Frank Woolworth, Johnny “Tarzan” Weissmuller and Tallulah Bankhead were among the most famous guests.
In 1936, a Christian preparatory school leased the property. In 1955, The King’s College moved to the site and remained until 1994. Thereafter, the property fell into disrepair and the main building was slated for demolition. In 2003, a fire destroyed all but the north and west wings of the building.
“We’re honoring some of the architecture with the Tudor-style community and we’re hoping that everyone welcomes The Club the way we intend it to be, which is in homage to the past with a vision to the future,” Muzio told the Business Journal. “The Tudor finishes, the landscaping and just to be exactly on the hill where the lodge was, those things could have been done differently, probably at a cost savings, but they weren’t.”
Muzio, whose background is in the hospitality industry, has spent the past 15 years working on the development of luxury senior living properties in Westchester and Manhattan.
“Our community will have three designations from the New York State Department of Health: the assisted living residence, ALR; the enhanced assisted living residence; and the special needs assisted living residence. That allows for a continuum of care as people age in place,” he said.
There were more than 125 people attending the grand opening of the property’s welcome center on Feb. 16 and 17 and about 75% of the people expressing interest in moving to the community have been from Westchester.
“We’re doing very concentrated mid-Westchester marketing, but we are getting very, very hyperlocal attention just because of the history of the community and land,” Muzio said. “We’ve got a few people coming over from the other side of the river and then there are a few coming from the city and a few from Long Island and a few from Connecticut, but mostly from central Westchester.”
The Club features a mix of 287 independent living, assisted living and memory care apartments in two interconnected buildings. Residents can choose from single or multiroom apartments. Senior Lifestyle Corp. indicates that the independent living apartments range from 974 square feet to 1,111 square feet with monthly rents stating at $7,350.
“Our price point is right in the middle of the Westchester independent and assisted livings,” Muzio said, noting that The Club is planning to offer a variety of cultural activities. “We have two buses and two cars so we’ll be doing a lot of things remotely, but we’re also planning to bring in cultural activities, speeches, lectures, exercise classes.”
He said his service team will be responsive to the desires of the residents.
“We’re going to be tailoring our cultural activities around our first 60 to 100 residents and then every resident thereafter. We’re going to be tailoring our menus to some of our early residents. We’re trying to make this exactly what residents want it to be.” Muzio pointed out that the director of dining services is a longtime country club director and their executive chef also comes from country clubs. “We’re trying to make sure we have the caliber of staff that can bring the food service to life,” he said.