Anticipating your questions.
As a new option in senior living, we’re sure you have questions about Opus. To help, we’ve posted some common questions we’ve heard, along with helpful answers.
Questions about the project:
How many apartments will there be, and what sizes?
There will be 174 residences at Opus Newton, with seven different one- and two-bedroom floor plans in a range of sizes from 650 to 1,350 square feet. The choice of apartments will allow both singles and couples to find a comfortable home at Opus.
What will be included in the apartments?
The apartments will be bright and open, with full kitchens, washers and dryers, individually controlled heating and air conditioning, attractive fixtures and finishes. Some will have balconies and some floor plans include den or home office space. There will be choices of color palettes and possibly some available upgrades.
What community spaces will Opus have?
Opus Newton will be joined to Coleman House by a two-story connector filled with glass and light. The connector will consist of flexible gathering spaces to accommodate cultural and educational events of different types and sizes. A café, art studio, classroom and meeting rooms are part of this space. While residents can choose to go to the Jewish Community Center (JCC), there will also be a fitness center at Opus. Coleman House also has community spaces that Opus residents will enjoy for some services and programs. Outside, for the enjoyment of our beautiful woodland setting, there will be patios, gardens and walking trails that connect residents to campus amenities, Newton Community Farm and Nahanton Park.
Is there parking?
Yes, there will be underground parking available at a cost, as well as some above-ground parking. Because maintaining an auto is a significant expense, we are looking at options like Zip-Car and plan to make ride-share services such as Uber, Lyft, and Newton in Motion shuttle service easily available to residents.
How will Opus impact traffic around the new location?
In studies done across the nation, communities like Opus have a surprisingly low impact on traffic in the areas where they are built. The hours that residents of a senior living community travel are not typically peak drive times, and some residents will choose not to drive. Many of the things that people typically drive to – restaurants, gyms, events – are already here on the campus. Staffing is lower at Opus than other land uses like commercial or medical. And the emphasis we are putting on ride-share and transportation services will also be a positive. In the traffic study we conducted for this project in particular, there was just over a 1% impact on traffic at our peak traffic time of the day. And while neighborhood traffic peaks during morning and afternoon commute times, Opus traffic will peak at noon when other utilization is lower. The impact this project has on traffic is negligible.
Will you be able to see the building from the road?
The Opus Newton site is surrounded by an 80-foot buffer of trees and won’t have much impact on views from any of the nearby vantage points. You may be able to see the top floors of the building through the trees, depending on where you are standing or from other buildings in the area.
What will the building be made of?
It’s too early to be definitive about this. The architects are still in the design process, and are working with suppliers, contractors and 2Life to identify and select materials that meet all of our goals – sustainability, aesthetics, low-maintenance and cost.
Is it a green building?
Yes. Opus Newton will meet Leed Gold requirements and will meet Passive House standards in the residential building. There will be solar panels incorporated in the Opus design. The project will be built with sustainable and non-emitting materials that protect the health of residents and the environment. Every system is selected and every decision about materials is made with this important goal in mind.
Why did you choose Newton for the first Opus?
2Life has been in discussions with the JCC for several years about the potential to build Opus on this site. We liked the idea of multiple generations on the campus, the environment of wellness and fitness, the potential for programming partnerships with the JCC, the Farm and the Park, and the convenience and livability of nearby Newton Highlands and Needham. The additional advantage of a connection with our Coleman House community was also exciting to 2Life.
Will there be more Opus communities? If so, where do you see these communities being built?
2Life believes that every older adult deserves the opportunity to live a full life of connection and purpose in a dynamic, supportive environment. Opus is our answer to how we can make that opportunity available to people “in the middle” – those whose incomes are above the qualifying threshold for housing subsidy, but who aren’t comfortable with the pricing for traditional market rate retirement communities. This group represents 54% of older adults. We believe that Opus is a much-needed option, and that people will want to be part of this unique way of life – and the meaningful community – that Opus represents. Our hope is to develop multiple Opus communities across the greater Boston area. And we hope that other organizations in other cities will find our work and our prototype helpful and emulate it so that more older adults can live in meaningful community.
Will Opus be exclusively for Jewish seniors?
Opus – like all 2Life Communities – will be open to people of all faiths, and will be a welcoming, inclusive community that embraces diversity. 2Life is a Jewish organization that brings Jewish beliefs and traditions to our work – a commitment to honoring our fathers and mothers, and a belief that it is our responsibility to be part of Tikkun Olam or healing the world. Our communities evidence our values through profound respect for every individual, the desire to do what is right and bring good to the world.
How old do you have to be to live at Opus?
Generally, residents need to be at least 62 years of age. In the case of a couple, at least one member must meet the age requirement.
Will residents be able to use the JCC?
Yes, residents will have options for accessing the JCC at multiple membership levels. We are working to define these options and to make our location on the JCC campus an integral part of resident life.
I understand that residents are asked to contribute their time as a volunteer. How does that work?
Every Opus resident will make a commitment to volunteer approximately ten hours each month to help the community and their neighbors. We know that this generation of older adults is looking for purpose – to continue contributing. And, as well, this is one way that Opus can be more affordable, by activating our most valuable resource – the people who live here – to make the community thrive. Volunteer opportunities are many: teaching classes, supporting events, being a host or hostess in the café, organizing a program, helping a fellow resident. The hope is that residents will tap into a volunteer role that reflects a long-time passion or allows them to learn something new that they enjoy.
How much will it cost to live at Opus?
It will be some time before we can answer that question precisely. What we can share is that there will be a partially refundable Community Share – an up-front amount typically paid from the sale of a home – and there will be very reasonable monthly fees. In November 2021, as we get closer to defining the project and understanding construction costs, we will be able to begin sharing price ranges, and then – around April of 2022 – we expect to be able to provide detailed pre-construction pricing. Opus pricing is structured to be within reach for those older adults who aren’t comfortable with current market options. As a not-for-profit community, we are motivated to prioritize affordability over profit for owners or investors.
Will I own my home?
No. There is no ownership or equity involved, and you won’t be responsible for fixing up and selling your apartment when you leave. You will have a life-lease for your apartment. The Community Share will be partially refundable to you or your estate when you leave Opus. And, while you are living at Opus, should you not have the funds to afford home care that you need as you get older, the refundable component of the Community Share can be drawn down to pay for your care.
Does Opus include any affordable apartments?
In truth ALL of Opus’s apartments will be affordable to a group of older adults that has been failed by the market – people who before now would have had to leave the greater Boston area to find a community within their means. In addition, as a part of our zoning, nine of the apartments will comply with Newton’s inclusionary zoning law.
Questions about the Opus concept:
How is Opus different than a Life Plan Community or CCRC?
Opus is a completely different model. In most Life Plan communities, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing are located on the campus so that residents can move to these facilities if they need care. At Opus, we will support residents in accessing quality medical care and bringing care into their apartments through partnerships with home care providers. Another difference is that many Life Plan communities bake in high staffing levels to provide a very high level of service to residents. Opus is focused on residents staying as independent as possible and forming a true community where everyone helps to make things tick, thereby keeping staffing costs a bit lower. We will have a great professional staff to support Opus residents, but not to cater to them like a resort or hotel would. Finally, the biggest difference is in the hearts and minds of residents – Opus residents will need to be givers, seekers. People looking for agency and meaning in their lives and opportunities to continue to contribute and grow. This is the type of community we believe can be successful on so many different levels, not just affordability.
How is Opus different than affordable housing options?
2Life has developed high quality affordable housing for over 50 years, and we believe that – done properly – affordable housing provides low income individuals with an amazing way of life. For us, the heartbreak over these many years has been having to turn people away from our communities because their incomes were too high – sometimes by only a few dollars – to qualify for affordable housing. Opus allows us to serve these families, and it is different than our affordable housing portfolio in a number of ways. First, residents will pay privately to live in the community. Our goal is to make this private-pay option affordable to a wider group of older adults through all that we have learned in our work, and through creativity and innovation. Because each resident is paying privately, we have devised smart ways to make Opus more affordable, leveraging the residents’ home equity and incorporating volunteerism. Opus will also have a broader range of apartment styles and sizes to accommodate its target market.
Is 2Life changing its mission from affordable housing?
Absolutely not. 2Life is building more affordable housing at a rapid pace – as frequently as public funds allow – with exciting new projects coming to life on multiple sites. Opus allows us to bring our skills and our dedication to a new category of affordability – that “forgotten middle” who have earnings and own homes, but don’t have high wealth. Our goal is to expand affordability to all those who are failed by the market.
Why is it called “Opus”?
As we looked for a name for this new concept, Opus was the idea that seemed to represent our work in two important ways. First, we believe in older adults – that the best of life can still lie ahead – that drawing on everything they have experienced can culminate in a masterwork – their life’s Opus. Second, in addition to each individual’s “Opus”, the term also applies to the community as a whole. An Opus is a musical masterpiece that draws on every instrument in the orchestra. A violin by itself can be beautiful. A bassoon solo can be exquisite. But when you combine all the diverse and different sounds from all of the instruments, it is the combination of each unique sound coming together that creates an Opus – a masterwork. The people in our communities, each an individual, all joining together, will create our Magnum Opus.
How has 2Life Communities taken care of residents during COVID-19?
We care passionately about all 2Life residents and staff and are taking strong action to protect our community from the spread of COVID-19. We added significant supports and services for residents throughout the Shelter-at-Home period so that residents have had the ability to remain in their apartments. These include services such as delivery of meals free of charge, access to basic pantry items on site, laundry service, monitoring building access and frequent disinfecting/cleaning. We have focused on increasing outside air exchange, and are continuing to enhance our infrastructure, including adding ionizing HVAC equipment to our communities. We are working to implement testing programs as well.
We are committed to full transparency and regularly update our website to communicate the number of virus cases in our buildings. As of now, the number of cases in our communities has been under 1% of residents and staff. To help families and care partners support our efforts to keep 2Life Communities as safe as possible, we have provided links to our downloadable policies and protocols and have shared them with other senior housing organizations.
Remaining connected to others also supports wellness, and we have taken multiple steps to ensure this. We supported our resident-facing staff with equipment to call residents frequently to check in and connect. We created video classes and have started an internal television station to connect self-isolating residents to programming. And we launched an initiative to provide Chrome Books to residents who don’t have computer connectivity. And we retained additional staff to make sure every resident has what they need to stay safe.
What COVID-19-related precautions will be taken for Opus?
We are partnering with a prominent national senior living architect, Perkins Eastman, to design the community and they are working very closely with our engineering team to stay on top of the latest industry guidance and innovative technologies from HVAC systems to anti-microbial surfaces. It is a unique opportunity to build one of the first COVID-responsive senior communities in our area.
I’m interested questions:
When can I move in?
A number of milestones need to be accomplished before we can open our doors for residents. First, we need to complete the permitting and zoning process. Then, we will begin our Priority Reservation Program, at the same time that we are completing our design and construction-estimating process. Once we have firmer details about pricing and floor plans, we will begin taking Pre-Sale deposits. When 70% of the apartments are reserved, we can obtain financing and begin construction. Once construction starts, we anticipate it being about a 22-month build time. So, it’s important that those who want to be residents think ahead and reserve a place at Opus for the future. That way, they can be part of the excitement and part of the community as we bring this dream to reality.
How can I find out more?
Join our Early Interest List! Provide us with your email, address and phone number so that we can keep in touch with you about Opus and invite you to the educational and informational events that we are planning as we move forward. You can do this by calling our marketing team at 617-912-8480 or by visiting our website at 2lifetogether.org.
Have more questions about our approach to senior living communities? Use the contact form on this page.