Groundbreaking held for Keystone Villa

By on August 21, 2013


ROCHELLE A. SHENK Review Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Keystone Villa at Ephrata is one step closer to reality.

The retirement facility, an adaptive reuse of the former Artworks at Doneckers site at 100 N. State St., held a groundbreaking event Aug. 15. Completion date of the estimated $12 million project is expected to be in September 2014 and create 100 new full- and part-time jobs.

The 150,000-square-foot, four-story apartment building is expected to house 160 seniors. Keystone Villa at Ephrata offers a month-to-month lease; there is no up-front buy-in fee. Pricing has not yet been set. Amy Purcell, regional director of sales and marketing, anticipates that pricing will be established in March when the models open. She said that currently 100 percent refundable deposits of $1,000 are being accepted.

It is being developed by Keystone Senior Management (KSM) and will feature 139 apartments: 78 independent living units, 43 personal care units and 18 memory care units. Each level features apartment configurations that include studio, one- and two-bedroom layouts with square footage ranging from 400 to 1,000-square feet.

Amenities will include a courtyard, beauty salon, library, meals, housekeeping, linen services and transportation. The facility will also host numerous social, recreational and educational activities.

"The difference is not in the amenities that we provide, but the human approach that we take when we deliver those services; a smile, a wave, a hug and the time to listen. We chose Ephrata because residents are looking for an active lifestyle, both on campus and within the surrounding community," said Chris Henderson, KSM regional director of operations, "Keystone Villa at Ephrata is not only located on a walking path (a rails-to-trails path), but it’s also near the heart of Ephrata, which offers a variety of retail shops, dining options and entertainment opportunities."

"We’re building more than a building, we’re building a community for seniors to live in, a place where they can feel secure, where they can meet new friends, where they can stay active," added Jim Elliott, KSM general partner.

One of those active seniors is Mildred Fitterling, who will be the Keystone Villa of Ephrata’s first resident. The 91-year-old has been living at one of KSM’s other communities, Keystone Villa at Fleetwood, for nearly two years, but the former Adamstown resident is looking forward to her move to Ephrata. "This is like coming home for me. I have a lot of friends in the Ephrata area," she said.

Born in Knauers, her family moved to Adamstown where her father operated a feed store. She served in the Navy, and then returned to Adamstown, where she and her husband owned and operated Fitterling Grocery Store for 10 years. She also was employed by D & E as a telephone operator, and she retired from Polymer Corporation. In addition to her professional career and raising her daughter, Delores, she was also involved in numerous civic organizations. She was the first president of the Adamstown VFW auxiliary, a charter member of the Adamstown Woman’s Club, and played the organ for Adamstown Lutheran Church. She remains active today as a member of the Ephrata American Legion, Ephrata Rec and Reinholds Senior Center.

Fitterling also has a connection to the Donecker legacy. When the Adamstown Woman’s Club held charitable fashion shows at Donecker’s, she was one of the models.

H. William Donecker, the owner of the former Artworks at Doneckers site, said that he’s excited to welcome Keystone Villa to the community.

"They’re preserving this historic property, which continues my philosophy of development. I would rather preserve than tear down. I worked hard to final a good use for this property," he said.

Eby Shoe Co., a shoe manufacturer, opened its doors there in 1914. It became Fleet Air Corp. in 1973, and closed its doors in 1985. The property was vacant until 1989, when Donecker opened the Artworks at Doneckers, which featured an expo center, art gallery and artist’s studios, a farmer’s market, and furniture gallery. The Artworks closed in 2008 during the economic downturn. Most recently, the facility housed a used furniture store, thrift shop, and St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company, which moved to 1701 W. Main St.

During the construction of Keystone Villa at Ephrata, 115,000-square feet of space will be added to the existing building. Henderson said that the project has been moving forward for two years. Elliott added that the Ephrata site had been one of two sites considered when KSM, which opened its first site in Douglassville in 2005, was seeking another location for senior living.

"At that time we were looking at Ephrata and Fleetwood. We built Fleetwood, but we never forgot this site. We fell in love with the small town feel. When you come down the hill on Main Street, you get the feel of a college town without a college," he explained.

Tracy Polacheck, who has been with KSM since 2005 and is executive director of Keystone Villa at Fleetwood, was recently named at senior executive director of Keystone Villa at Ephrata. She will manage the day-to-day operations at Ephrata. Michele Glover will serve as director of marketing at Keystone Villa at Ephrata.

The building was designed by Muhlenberg Greene Architects Ltd., Reading. Hollenbach Construction Inc., Boyertown, is the general contractor.

For further information about Keystone Villa at Ephrata visit or call 738-5700.


About Ephrata Review