Dan McFarland, general manager of Veranda Park, overlooks the courtyard in the new retirement living facility near Lone Pine Elementary School in Medford. - Jim Craven

Veranda Park opens doors

Mike Mahar envisioned a next-generation retirement community near Lone Pine Elementary School more than two decades ago, not far from where the Medford developer raised his own family.

Before some of the surrounding neighborhoods were built or McAndrews Road extended into the east Medford foothills, and even before its first residents mulled over retirement, Mahar considered the hillside property off Thrasher Lane between McAndrews and Lone Pine roads a prime site.

The first of some 200 residents are moving into Veranda Park this week even as the finishing touches are being administered to the 220,000-square-foot project comprising 113 apartment units, 28 cottages and 15 common areas. It has taken 300 tradesmen and subcontractors two years to complete the project.

"We're doing something that is pretty unique, in fact I don't know if it's been done before," Mahar says. "Our goal is to make it fun."

The $28 million complex features a second-floor Main Street, a dining veranda (hence the name), meeting areas, putting greens and personal gardening areas.

"The veranda represents Southern hospitality and that's the feeling we want projected," says Mary Mahar, Mike's wife, who implemented her interior design plans over a two-year period.

Mike and Mary Mahar are the majority owners of the 8-acre complex, with Larry and Ann Horton, Lou and Kathryn Mahar, and Randy and Jonelle Jones holding minority stakes.

While Rogue Valley Manor, home to 2,000 continuing care residents, is a city on a hill, Veranda Park is a hillside community for independent living. From the Chad Robinson Library to art and crafts rooms and from exercise rooms to pedicure stations, the complex is designed for active retirement.

The putting greens will enable Assistant Manager Norm Blandel, one of 212 PGA master professionals in the country, to work with residents on their short game. Eventually, a simulator will allow residents to play a variety of golf courses without ever leaving the building. If golf isn't their game, residents will be able to try their hand at croquet or badminton.

A 50-by-20-foot dance floor is across a lobby area from the dining hall. It also overlooks a 1-acre courtyard replete with waterfalls, ponds and a gazebo. While waiting to be seated, or just for entertainment, residents can watch the fish in a nearly 1,000-gallon aquarium.

Even though residents are already unpacking boxes, the main kitchen and dining areas won't be up to full speed for a few weeks. Both inside and out, the structure is patterned after an Adirondack lodge, Mike Mahar says.

Main Street stretches nearly 250 feet with simulated early-20th century storefronts where residents can visit an ice cream parlor or a theater, play billiards, gossip in the tea room or have their hair cut at a barbershop with a rotating pole.

General Manager Dan McFarland, who oversaw Anna Marie Creekside, took over day-to-day operations at the new facility Sept. 1.

"This is a place built to attract younger retirees," McFarland says. "The average age for retirement homes is 831/2 years, but I'd say our demographic is going to be a little younger. We'll have people in their 60s and 70s as well as their 90s."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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