Atria Ridgefield: Community, comfort top goals for new senior living complex

Maureen McLam, Margarida Velardo and John Hartmayer inside Atria Ridgefield’s pop-up shop on Main Street. Atria Ridgefield will open on Old Quarry Road this fall.

Maureen McLam, Margarida Velardo and John Hartmayer inside Atria Ridgefield’s pop-up shop on Main Street. Atria Ridgefield will open on Old Quarry Road this fall.

Stephen Coulter / Hearst Media CT

Chef-prepared meals, restaurant-style dining, a movie theater and a library, a salon and spa, and a fitness center — there isn’t much missing from Atria Ridgefield’s list of offerings.

What about location? That’s the new upscale senior living community’s biggest asset.

“We’re excited about the proximity to downtown,” said John Hartmayer, Atria Senior Living’s senior vice president. “We’re less than half a mile away from all the shopping and entertainment Ridgefield has to offer. Our residents will have everything at their fingertips — Founders Hall, The Ridgefield Playhouse, ACT of Connecticut, Lounsbury House, The Aldrich Museum, the Ridgefield Library.”

If location isn’t an easy enough selling point, Hartmayer believes flexibility will be a key to serving Atria’s clients in Ridgefield. The 80,000-square foot building that’s currently under construction at 55 Old Quarry Road plans to offer assisted living and memory care services to its residents.

The building, which has 86 apartments, is set to open later this fall. Of the 86 units, less than 30 will be designated for memory care and they will all be located on the terrace level.”

“We have plenty of people coming in who won’t be receiving any services. They will be living entirely independent in our building, and that’s important to us. We want to give our residents all the amenities possible ... We like to think of ourselves as 55 and active,” Hartmayer said. “... It’s a month to month rental with no buy in so it’s easy to move in. A strict rental agreement offers more flexibility then having to put up money up front.”

Hartmayer, who’s wife grew up in Ridgefield, moved to town in 2010.

“Her family’s been here since the 70s,” he said. “I became familiar with it in 1992, and it was immediately obvious to me then — as it is now — that this a place that’s very family oriented and that has a strong community feel. There is an emphasis on education, and people don’t want to leave. I don’t blame them — it’s a nice place to live.”

But for all its positive attributes, Ridgefield lacks appropriate housing for its aging senior population.

“There’s enough of a demand here that it made sense,” Hartmayer said. “People really want to stay in town. We found out that some who have even moved down to Florida are moving back, and that’s because the community feel is unrivaled. From Halloween trick-or-treating on Main Street to the Memorial Day parade, there’s always something going on.”


Atria has been working hard this year to integrate itself into the community that it intends to serve.

The business opened up a pop-up storefront at 392 Main Street where prospective lease signers can check in and find out more information.

Atria had a table at the Memorial Day parade and hosted a booth at the Playhouse during the Paul Anka show in May.

“We want to get involved in the schools and the athletics programs, too,” Hartmayer said.

So far there’s been a lot of interest, specifically from residents in North and South Salem, Wilton, Redding, and Danbury. Of course, the majority of people who have signed up this summer live in Ridgefield or know somebody that does.

“They’re either living in town and looking to downsize or have an adult — a son or daughter — who lives in town with kids, and they’re looking to live as close to them as possible,” Hartmayer said.

“...I would say about 50 percent of our signed leases so far have been made by people from town,” he added.


Hartmayer is proud of Atria’s food, and believes it as yet another strong selling point.

“Three meals a day, anytime from 7 to 7,” he said. “It’s restaurant-style seating, and the menu changes seasonal. ... It’ll be a lot easier when people can walk in and taste it.”

The business’ culinary program serves 235 properties across America and Canada, 10 of which are in Connecticut. Ridgefield will be Fairfield County’s fourth Atria location following Darien, Stamford and Stratford.

“No two buildings are a like, each one is unique in its own way” Hartmayer explained. “Our building here purposefully fits into Ridgefield — the architecture, the art work inside, the stone work outside.”

While Atria handles all the hiring and will operate the day-to-day business operations once the building opens, Formation Development Group is responsible for the construction on Old Quarry Road this summer.

“We want to appeal to modern seniors and their grandchildren, and that’s why we are offering the furnishings and the art and the private rooms for parties and family gatherings,” said Formation Development Group’s co-founder and vice president Mark Mayberry.

“The restaurant is more than just a dining room,” he added, “there’s patio dining and lots of different options. It’s a very vibrant setting.”

Although he works for the Atlanta-based Formation Development Group, Mayberry also has a connection to Ridgefield.

His wife also grew up in town, graduating from Ridgefield High School at the end of the 1970s.

“Her family lived in town for a while and she really helped me understand why it was such special place,” he said. “When Ridgefield was identified as a possible location, I had a feeling that this would really be a nice fit with the community, and that hunch has proven true.”


Hartmayer said that Atria’s partnership with Formation Development Group enables it to maximize the space given to residents.

“They’re not on top of one another,” he said. “And we’ve found that that’s one of the most important aspects of these buildings. The people in them want to navigate around them easily and they want to have space in between the units.”

There’s also plenty of shared space — among them, a living room, a library, and a cafe.

“The design is simple yet elegant,” Hartmayer said. “The goal is to make them comfortable. It’s someone’s home and we’re servicing them in their home.”

A 24-hour staff, daily housekeeping, and a bus for transportation are among the other amenities offered.

“Our housekeepers make the bed, empty the trash, clean the lights and windows — it’s hotel style service,” Hartmayer said.

Engage Life

Atria has hired Ridgefield resident Scott Schulte to head its Engage Life program for non-memory care residents.

The calendar will include everything from exercise classes to meeting with local artists.

Ultimately the residents of Atria will have the final say though.

“It’s all based on our residents’ wants and desires,” Hartmayer said. “It’s designed toward the population we have here. We know art is big in this community so we’ll build programs around the art scene in town. ... Anything that’s specific to the Ridgefield community we’re go to use that to create something that engages our residents. We really want it to all be about their hobbies and interests. And maybe along the way they’ll discovered something they never did before.”

For more information about Atria Ridgefield, contact Executive Director Margarida Verlardo at 203-970-2687.