February 10, 2017

A rare gem

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Luxurious Opal seniors’ development designed to evolve with the residents

By  Kathleen Freimond

Opal_Wellness_Spa_LobbyResidents in Opal, the $106-million seniors’ development in Vancouver’s Cambie Village, will combine the comfort of private clubhouse amenities with the convenience of services designed to provide a continuum of lifestyle as residents age.

Located at 438 West King Edward Ave., the luxury 130-unit residential development comprises one six-storey and two four-storey buildings connected at ground level. Opal has 44 condos for sale, 56 for rental plus 30 complex care suites. Residents can choose one of three levels of care: independent living, assisted living or 24-hour care in the complex care units.

“This variety of care options supports the continuum of lifestyle—it lets you maintain your activities and interests knowing that if you require personalized care as you age, that care is available at Opal,” says Candy Ho, director and vice-president, marketing and corporate relations of Element Lifestyle Retirement, the management company responsible for developing and operating Opal on a 20-year contract.

The Opal sales centre is at 130 City Square, 555 West 12th Ave., Vancouver. Call 604-871-9265 for information on hours/appointments.

The home-from-home concept is important to Ho: “My inspiration for the development is my parents. My father Don Ho, pioneered the concept of continuum of lifestyles—the idea of aging-in-place—and Opal is the flagship of that model. It layers in intergenerational living because of our family values,” she says, adding that her own parents will make Opal their home when it is completed in early 2019.

“People have a certain standard of living and our challenge was to design the suites to be as luxurious as the homes residents will leave when they move into Opal. I believe we have been successful,” says Opal’s project interior designer Diane Shrubb of Shrubb Design Partnership.

“Candy always emphasized that we should exceed code in the design. As an example: Grab bars in the bathrooms are a must in barrier-free units, but we specified grab bars that don’t look institutional for all units,” she says.

The bathrooms feature frameless glass shower doors and transition-free tiled showers. This smooth access removes a potential tripping hazard and enables easy wheelchair access if necessary. The showers also feature a linear drain to maximize drainage. “This is an important feature that requires custom concrete slab work and must be built in up-front. It’s an expensive part of the infrastructure, but I think it’s worth it,” she says.

Opal_155-HDRThe porcelain marble-look floor tiles are non-slip, with a high coefficient of friction, and the bathroom lighting design takes “aging eyes” into account, says Shrubb. In addition to ambient lighting there is concealed lighting under the vanity, giving the whole room a sense of brightness, she explains. Back lighting on the mirror and medicine cabinets also makes it easier for personal grooming, like applying makeup or shaving.

The attention to lighting carries through to the kitchens where concealed lighting on the peninsula adds to the ambience of the living space. “If you’re sitting in the living room the under-counter lighting enhances the feeling of being in a space where there is lots of light,” she says.

The concealed lighting in the kitchens and bathrooms is also a safety feature. If residents wake at night and go to the bathroom and/or kitchen it prevents tripping, says Ho.

Switches and electrical outlets at heights specified for adaptable housing further support the aging in place philosophy.

Laminate wood floors in the living area continue in the kitchen and visually connect the spaces. Stain-resistant quartz countertops enhance the contemporary design in the kitchen, which has full-size European appliances.

Amenities at Opal include 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. Features include adjoining intergenerational function rooms for private family dining, a gym with specialized equipment for balance and strength exercises, a luxury wellness spa, a movement studio with a backlit Himalayan rock salt wall, a library lounge, heated and covered patios and courtyards and a chef’s table and open display kitchen for culinary demonstrations and cooking classes, plus a rooftop terrace for outdoor exercise sessions, afternoon teas and barbecues.

Only one occupant in the condo has to be 55 or older and Ho says layering in intergenerational amenities and activities is expected to attract a range of ages within the seniors demographic. Based on sales so far, the average age of residents is under 70, compared to 87, the more typical age for residents in retirement communities.

In addition to its own programming, transportation services and culinary offerings Opal is conveniently located in the Cambie corridor, close to shops and restaurants and the King Edward SkyTrain station on the Canada Line.•

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