Construction crews work on one of the 17 new duplexes being built at Capital Manor on Aug. 6. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

At Capital Manor Retirement Community, an institution almost as old as its youngest residents, new life clambers together on the west side of campus.

Workers one afternoon in early August drilled door hinges and glued house wrap onto 17 more duplexes, standing in varying stages of construction. The scene resembled the start of any other housing subdivision, only these are reserved for retirees.

“The demand is there,” said Executive Director David Lewis.

He appears to be right.

The duplexes officially sold out this month, despite the costs of obtaining a unit being almost as much as buying a home in Salem. Residents pay monthly fees, as well.

It’s fueled by the “Silver Tsunami” hitting the Salem area. According to Lewis, the center hit full occupancy about two years ago and decided it was time to expand. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of people aged 60 and older in Salem rose nearly 20 percent – from 26,475 people to 31,236 — from 2010 to 2017.

“We said if we’re full, we’re not meeting the needs of Salem,” he said. “So the board took a hard look.”

The center, a nonprofit, plans to spend $48 million on its expansion, already underway.

The expansion includes the duplexes, a new wing to care for residents with dementia and a bevy of hip amenities: a wine bar, an improved bistro for food on-the-go, a spa, a salon and a space for yoga.

“I consider this a landlocked cruise ship,” said Lewis, who has led the center for eight years.

Construction started last May with redevelopment of parking lots. Soon after, construction crews broke ground on the duplexes — called “villas” by the center — and the new wing.

The villas offer two- and three-bedroom units, ranging from 1,400 to 1,650 square feet. Marketing director Nikki Phillips said the units cost an entry fee between $200,000 and $300,000. Residents get the space for the rest of their life, unless they move into a higher level of care.

“That’s a decision made by many people: them, their family, their doctors,” Phillips said.

Residents also pay between $2,000 and $4,500 per month for cable, internet, utilities, transportation, housekeeping, landscaping, emergency response and other services.

The kitchen area inside one of the new villas opening at Capital Manor on Aug. 6. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

As they get older and healthcare needs grow, monthly fees are $3,500 to $3,900, Phillips said. Residents don’t pay another entry fee when they move into a space designed for more care.

With the costs, Phillips said residents aren’t just buying the services and amenities, but also a plan for their last days.

“To already have a plan in place provides a lot of peace of mind for the people who live here,” she said.

The first of the new villas opened this month and residents are beginning to move in. About four new villas will open about every month until the last are finished by April.

Mary Pruitt, a Capital Manor employee for the last 15 years, will move into one of the new villas with her husband in September. She said they grew tired of repairing an older, 3,200-square-foot home in West Salem after their kids moved out.

“If you have an older home, a pipe starts leaking or the furnace goes out,” she said. “Just the constant, regular maintenance of the house. And you think after a while, is it really worth it to keep pouring money into the house?”

Pruitt and her husband are 61 and 64, respectively.

Pruitt will continue to work for Capital Manor and said she paid the move-in costs after their home sold in less than 24 hours. She echoed Phillips that moving into the villas helps plan for the future and added that it takes a burden off her children who, she said, have their own lives and schedules.

“I just feel like this is a gift we’re giving to our kids,” she said.

The center opened in 1963 with its 10-story tower easily noticeable by drivers on Highway 22 in West Salem. At its opening, the tower offered 225 rooms, according to newspaper archives.

Capital Manor started adding villas and townhouses in the 1980s and early 90s, Phillips said. It had 83 villas and 13 townhouses before the latest expansion started.

In total, Capital Manor’s inventory of units will grow from 357 to 413 when construction finishes.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, [email protected] or @TroyWB.

Capital Manor's original tower stands in the distance, behind the construction of a new wing to care for residents with dementia on Aug. 6. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)A construction worker stands on scaffolding at Capital Manor's new, upcoming wing to care for residents with dementia on Aug. 6. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)Capital Manor's original tower stands in the distance while construction crews build 17 new duplexes to the west on Aug. 6. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)