Residents of a long standing senior living community in Aurora are watching with anticipation as construction takes shape on several new amenities.
The sounds of hammers, drills and buzzsaws are filling the air at Heather Gardens as crews work on a $9.8 million project aimed at sprucing up the area. Residents here recently voted in favor of a bond proposal to build a new community center on the promise that the new facility would help reshape the image of Heather Gardens.
"I think it's good to start something new like this that will help bring some new people in here," said resident Tony Cumming, who moved to Heather Gardens in 2000. "It's going to make it better for all of us who live here."
The current community center, originally constructed in 1973, is beginning to show signs of its age, he said.
"This place is getting older," Cumming said.
The new 50,000-square-foot community center will feature a new sun room that overlooks the golf course, auditorium, fitness center, arts and crafts room, golf pro shop and an indoor pool. The community center's in-house restaurant, Blossoms, also will be retrofitted.
Construction on the facility is about 60 percent finished and is expected to be completed in April, said Rick Pusch, senior project superintendent for the Weitz Company, the construction firm heading up the project.
Heather Gardens residents approved a bond measure to fund the community center last year by a 1,530-459 margin. The vote was somewhat of a surprise; residents had twice turned down similar proposals in years past.
Mel Goldberg, who has lived at Heather Gardens since it first opened in the early '70s, was one of the no votes. He said was skeptical over the design plans for the new building.
"Now that it's done and being constructed, of course I'm excited," Goldberg said.
Allen Lindeman, president of the Heather Gardens Metropolitan District, said many of those who were initially opposed to property tax hike are now beginning to come around.
"The residents are really excited," Lindeman said. "Even the naysayers seem to be becoming positive now that they see what the building actually looks like."
Once the new community center is up and running, construction crews will begin the process of tearing down the old building. It should take about a month to raze the old facility.
After that's finished, workers will begin to prep the area surrounding the old community center for new tennis courts and a detention pond.