As Thomas Schwarz ends his nearly 20-year run leading Purchase College in spring 2019, he will remain involved in one of his marquee projects: a senior living community on campus.
A press release from the school on March 16 announcing Schwarz’s retirement noted that the college president would stay involved in developing the retirement community beyond his term.
“He plans on devoting much of his last year to the creation of Broadview, a senior living community in development for the campus,” the statement read. “Following his retirement, President Schwarz will continue to be a member of the board that is directing the project.”
Schwarz has led the college for 17 years, one of the longest-serving presidents in the SUNY system. He was officially named the fifth president of Purchase in 2003, after arriving on campus as acting president in 2001.
The senior living community plan dates back to 2003. The college’s nonprofit, the Purchase College Advancement Corp., is leading the initiative in its final steps before construction, along with two private development partners. A website launched last fall advertises the project as Broadview, Senior Living at Purchase.
The first phase of construction, expected to start in 2019, will include 220 independent living apartments and villas for seniors ages 62 and older. That includes 36 assisted living apartments and 36 memory care suites.
A bill to allow the school to lease the land for the senior living campus first circulated the state Legislature in the early 2000s. It passed both houses in 2008, only to be vetoed by Gov. David Paterson, who wanted a more comprehensive approach to leasing SUNY land.
In 2011, a bill was signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to allow the school to lease about 40 acres to its nonprofit Purchase College Advancement Corp.
The nonprofit came forward with finalized plans last fall. The Purchase College Advancement Corp. is partnering with the Iowa-based Life Care Services, the nation’s third-largest manager of senior living communities, and Senior Care Development LLC, a developer of high-end senior communities based in Harrison.
The community could eventually have a total 385 units, 339 of which would be in an apartment-style building. The other 46 would be two-bedroom, single-story cottage style villas arranged as single-family and duplex-style buildings.
The community would include 60,000 square feet of amenity space, including dining venues, a fitness center, pool, salon, library and movie theater. A landscaped area with walking paths, gardens and outdoor seating would connect the main independent living apartment building to the neighborhood.
The Broadview design also includes a 12,000-square-foot “Learning Commons,” with classrooms, art studios, a performance space, culinary classrooms and a cafe. As described in Broadview advertising literature, the school views the commons a place “where residents and students can learn from each other or simply exchange views over a cup of coffee.”
The state legislation requires 20 percent of units be designated affordable to low- or moderate-income residents, and that 50 percent of those affordable units go to Westchester residents. It also designates that 75 percent of the project’s proceeds go to scholarships at Purchase College and 25 percent go to hiring full-time faculty.
The college, led by Schwarz, has long advocated for the project as a way to provide a desirable home for Westchester’s growing 65-and-older population while bringing in revenue to the college.
“Westchester has an aging population” Schwarz told the Business Journal in a 2011 feature. “To be able to be in a community on a college campus with the Performing Arts Center and a museum is very desirable.”
While Purchase would be the first SUNY school to have a senior living community, retirement communities on college campuses can be found throughout the country. Cornell University, Notre Dame, the University of Florida, Stanford University and Duke University are among the schools that offer living spaces for retirees on campus.
On his page on the school’s website, Schwarz lists the community senior living center as a way the school “embraced entrepreneurship” under his leadership, along with the school’s Park 2 Fly service, which provides a parking and shuttle service for $14 a day for travelers to the nearby Westchester County Airport.