Menno Haven acquired farmland adjacent to the existing 78-acre Menno Village campus, allowing for Menno Haven's largest master plan to date, she said.
The additional 65 acres, paired with 14 Menno Haven already owned, will be the site of Northfield at Menno Haven.
Northfield will include 115 villas and an independent living apartment building. A common area will have a fitness center, pool and classrooms.
The expansion is part of a nearly $60 million, 10-year plan that includes a residential Alzheimer's facility at Menno Village and community centers at both campuses.
"It is exciting. It adds to our spectrum," said Ray Miller, president and chief executive officer of Menno Haven. "We want to serve as many people as we can."
Construction of the first phase, which includes the infrastructure for Northfield, will officially get under way at a ground-breaking ceremony April 24. Occupancy is projected to be early summer of 2003, Fries said.
Menno Haven was founded in 1964 by two local Mennonite businessmen as a 60-bed nursing home on Scotland Avenue.
"Since that time Menno Haven/Menno Village has grown to a full-service continuing care facility," that includes independent living, assisted living, skilled and nursing care, Fries said.
In 1991, Menno Haven acquired the 36-acre Penn Hall campus and built the same type of facility.
Fries said Menno Haven's waiting list shows there is a demand for more senior housing in the county.
According to U.S. Census figures, Franklin County's population of seniors over age 65 soared 16 percent from 17,498 in 1990 to 20,690 in 2000, while the county's overall population grew 6.8 percent.
Seniors account for about 16 percent of Franklin County's population, compared to 15.6 percent of the state's and 12.4 percent of the nation's population, census figures show.
Access to 24-hour emergency response and maintenance-free living are what attract most residents to continuing care facilities like Menno Haven, Fries said.
"People don't want to mow lawns, shovel snow or worry if the roof is leaking," Fries said.
Residents as young as age 60 purchase a life-lease, which provides the "umbrella of security" for emergency response and guaranteed access to whatever level of care they will need in the future, she said.
The new villas start at 1,700 square feet and come with options like three bedrooms, two-car garages and lofts for business offices or grandchildren.
Preconstruction options ranging from floor coverings to crown molding allow people to customize their homes, Fries said.
"These are the things the future market is asking for," she said.
The Northfield apartment building and villas join a combined 128 residential apartments and 359 cottages at Menno Village and Penn Hall.
In addition, Menno Village has 78 assisted living units and 173 nursing beds, while Penn Hall has 66 assisted living units and 60 nursing beds.