Aegis breaks ground on region’s only Chinese-focused retirement community

July 30, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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NEW — 9:12 p.m. July 30, 2015

History is one of Newcastle’s greatest assets.

The Eastside suburb’s story dates back more than 150 years, when it was the second largest town in King County. During that time, coal was king, and Newcastle had plenty of it.

By Christina Corrales-Toy Newcastle Mayor Steve Buri, Aegis Living founder Dwayne Clark, former Gov. Gary Locke and King County Executive Dow Constantine break ground on Aegis Gardens, the region's first senior living community built for Chinese-American retirees.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Newcastle Mayor Steve Buri, Aegis Living founder Dwayne Clark, former Gov. Gary Locke and King County Executive Dow Constantine break ground on Aegis Gardens, the region’s first senior living community built for Chinese-American retirees.

That history was at the forefront of attendees’ minds July 30, when nearly 300 people gathered in Newcastle to celebrate the groundbreaking of a unique Aegis Living retirement community.

Aegis Gardens, a luxury senior living community built for Chinese-American retirees, will sit on the shores of Lake Boren, not far, incidentally, from Newcastle’s China Creek.

China Creek was so named for the Chinese mine and railroad workers who built small huts along the creek, away from the main mining camp in the late 1800s, according to Rich Crispo, a Newcastle Historical Society member and City Councilman.

“It’s fitting that this facility is in Newcastle. Right here on this very ground is where the first Chinese immigrants came to our part of the world,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said at the special groundbreaking ceremony.

Billed as the first project of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, Aegis Gardens is a 110-unit waterfront community sitting on a little more than seven acres.

The facility will offer the same high quality assisted living and memory care that Aegis Living is known for with an added emphasis on the Chinese culture, which will be reflected in everything from the building’s construction to the staff.

Chinese design aesthetics, the principles of Feng Shui and Northwest craftsmanship make up the elements incorporated in the facility’s architecture.

Programming will include everything from celebration of Chinese holidays to sit-down Tai Chi classes. The resort-style community will also have a central Zen garden and a tearoom.

Additionally, Aegis Gardens will feature an activity center with daycare services. An amphitheater and movie theater will play host to civic activities, cultural exhibitions, music performances and lectures on the most recent scientific advances in eastern and western medicine.

“Our goal in building this community was not just to have a retirement community, but really a cultural epicenter for the Chinese community as a whole,” said Aegis Living founder Dwayne Clark.

Based on recent U.S. Census figures, Clark said at least 75,000 Chinese-Americans live in King County, with many more residing in nearby Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Newcastle’s Aegis Gardens is the company’s second facility geared toward the Chinese culture. The first Aegis Gardens opened in Fremont, California more than a decade ago with much success.

With an occupancy rate at 100 percent, the Fremont location has shown that residents will travel miles, even several states away, to join such a specialized community, Michael Derr, Aegis Living’s vice president of development, told the Newcastle News in 2013.

Prospective residents have already put down deposits, claiming 10 percent of the Newcastle facility’s apartments.

Aegis Living doesn’t usually have groundbreaking ceremonies, but the Newcastle Aegis Gardens event drew hundreds, including Newcastle City Councilmembers and staff, at least one Bellevue City Council member, the King County Executive and former Washington Gov. Gary Locke.

Locke, who most recently served as the U.S. ambassador to China, praised the project and the impact it will have on the community both young and old.

“It truly will be, I think, a focal point for the Chinese American community on the Eastside and actually serve the needs of the Chinese community throughout the Puget Sound area,” he said.

Aegis Gardens is slated to open in 2017. Learn more about the facility at www.aegisgardenswa.com.

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