Gateway: Living

Heron’s Key breaks ground on $145 million community

Design renderings of the soon to be constructed Heron’s Key retirement community near Gig Harbor North. Construction has begun.
Design renderings of the soon to be constructed Heron’s Key retirement community near Gig Harbor North. Construction has begun. Courtesy

Heron’s Key, the first Continuing Care Retirement Community in Pierce County, broke ground Aug. 19 on the $145 million community in Gig Harbor.

The Gig Harbor project is Emerald Communities’ second senior housing development in western Washington, according to Lisa Hardy, CEO of Emerald Communities, the sponsor of Heron’s Key. The first, Emerald Heights, is located in Redmond.

When completed, the first phase of Heron’s Key will consist of 194 apartment and cottage homes, 36 assisted living suites, 45 skilled nursing private rooms, multiple dining rooms, a salon and barber shop, fitness center and health center.

Heron’s Key will offer residents 55 and older the opportunity to live independently and as they age stay on the same campus and go through the continuum of care.

“If a spouse needs skilled nursing care, one spouse can stay in the same apartment and literally walk down the corridor and visit,” Hardy said. “We are offering a lifestyle. Lifetime residency and future healthcare as needed, without significant increase in cost for short or long term care.”

This is a concept that caught the attention of West Seattle residents Bill and Ruth Heathman, who were the first people to sign up to move into Heron’s Key when it is completed in approximately 18 months.

“We heard about Heron’s Key and I called and made the reservation. We were the first ones to make a deposit in October 2012” Bill said.

The Heathmans looked at many retirement homes before making their decision to move into Heron’s Key.

Ruth and Bill have lived in their home for the last 40 years. Their daughter lives in Gig Harbor and they are looking forward to being closer to family. The couple is just beginning to go through everything they have accumulated over the last 40 years.

“If we don’t go through all this stuff, our kids will have to,” said Bill, adding, “If I accumulated it, I want to get rid of it.”

Ruth is looking forward to the fact that the campus will be walkable. The YMCA is nearby and a Starbucks and Costco are close as well. Their new home will have enough space so they can host overnight guests.

“We have very good friends that live in Tacoma and they are moving in and we also have another good friend in West Seattle that is planning to move to Gig Harbor,” Ruth said. “We will have space so we can have friends come and spend the night.”

Once it is completed, Heron’s Key will be one of the largest single employers in the area, with nearly 160 new jobs, Hardy said.

“The thing I’ve heard, and I’ve been in the industry since 1988, is once people move in they say number one: I wish I’d done this five years ago, and number two: This is the best gift I could give to my children,” she said.

The Heathmans are looking forward to their new adventure living in Gig Harbor at Heron’s Key. In addition to a daughter living in Gig Harbor, they have two granddaughters living in Tacoma.

“This just seems like a good move,” said Ruth.