By Lucy Abigail Albright
Construction is under way at the future site of Broadview, the senior living community that is slated to open at Purchase College in 2023. Located by the admissions building and spanning a 40-acre area on the west loop, Broadview is intended to help fund Purchase College while enabling retirees to live and learn on a college campus.
“Volunteer work and taking classes is what I do,” said future Broadview resident Martha Taylor, “so to actually be able to take classes at the place that I live, and to maybe take classes other than art, I love that idea.”
An artist and former professional singer, Taylor likes the “vibe of mental activity” that can be found on a college campus, as well as Broadview’s proximity to New York City. And though she hadn’t been looking for a retirement community—and said she’s somewhat younger than other future residents—Taylor found herself drawn to Broadview. Taylor said she isn’t fully committed yet, but has put down a payment and reserved a residence at Broadview.
A page on the Purchase website calls Broadview an extension of the college’s “Think Wide Open” motto, and says it would “[bridge] the gap between generations.”
According to the page, Broadview could also provide academic opportunities in psychology and sociology—though there are no specific plans listed—as well as jobs for students. Broadview will be a not-for-profit, and will pay rent to Purchase which will fund scholarships and hire new faculty.
Taylor said that spending time with older people would offer students a perspective on life, and that positive relationships could form between students and residents.
“The residents will bring a wealth of professional capital and experience in a myriad of fields, from journalism to medicine to acting, to, you name it,” said Ashley Wade, Broadview’s director of marketing.
Purchase students also could benefit from the Learning Commons, a shared space for students and residents. Wade said that the Learning Commons will include classrooms, a maker space, a “movement studio,” as well as performance spaces and a dining venue.
Many students, though, have reservations about sharing the campus with a retirement community.
Chelsea Muller, a double major in theater and performance and psychology, said that the presence of Broadview residents could take away from the college experience.
“It feels like this is our time to be here,” Muller said. “This is like a very specific age group that you expect to be at a college, so it just feels weird if older people are impeding on that.”
Though Muller thinks it’s good that older adults want to continue their education, she said that the idea of sharing the campus with them is unnerving.
But if Broadview ends up providing jobs or credited internships for students, Muller will feel better about its existence.
“I think that would remedy some of the ill feelings that I know I have—and a lot of students have—about this happening,” Muller said.
The construction of Broadview also means the loss of a hangout spot called the dunes. The spot has a fire pit created by students, and is located in a clearing surrounded by overgrown dirt hills. Mike Kopas, senior director of Facilities and Capital Planning, said that this area was used in the past as a place for debris from construction and demolition.
According to Broadview’s interactive map, the dunes will be turned into a park with walking trails, which Wade said will be open to Purchase students.
For some students, though, the dunes were an important part of campus life.
“It's like a cultural spot for a lot of people on campus, and it means a lot to have that space in the nature surrounding the school,” said Anisa Hodzic, a junior film major.
Alana Maisel, an anthropology and media studies student, sees the dunes and the forest area adjacent to them as an important place for student life. She objects to Purchase selling its land to a private company and sees public land as a dwindling resource that should be preserved.
Maisel said she thinks that students’ frustration at would-be Broadview residents is misplaced and that the real source of the frustration is the campus selling the land, as well as the recent loss of services like the bookstore and Terra Ve.
“There is some sense of scarcity and feeling like you're not being serviced, you're not being listened to, and stuff like that,” she said. “I think lot of people may not exactly be able to articulate it, and I think the easiest one is generally, like, ‘I don't want those old people.’”
Maisel has spent some time looking through the woods near the dunes and collecting items that demonstrate its use by students. Though some spots are filled with brambles and are hard to navigate, Maisel has seen old bonfires, a rope swing, and student art.
“I think it's just really important to document that for future generations of students to know that there was land here that students used,” she said. “And, like, be wary of them continuing to sell off public land. And I feel like it should be a motivator for student political actions in the future.”
Olivia Adams, a double major in playwriting and screenwriting and creative writing, is unhappy about the loss of the dunes, though she herself doesn’t spend much time there.
Adams also objects to the high prices at Broadview—the highest of which has an entrance fee of $2.2 million, according to Wade—and worries that tensions could arise between residents and students over issues of race, sexuality and gender.
Broadview doesn’t provide low income housing, but Wade, Broadview’s director of marketing, said it offers “below market rate” residences for people who make less than around $71,000 a year. Those apartments have an entrance fee of $250,000 and a monthly fee of $3,500.
New media student Kristy McCormack thinks that having Broadview on campus could be good for students.
“Having an available community on campus who's from a completely different generation seems like it would expand thinking wide,” McCormack said. She said she likes unusual solutions to problems, and thinks Broadview could provide an affordable place for senior citizens to live. Plus, it would help the college financially. McCormack gets along well with older people and will be happy to see them in her classes.
Future resident Martha Taylor hopes that Broadview will hold events that bring students and residents together. As a musician herself, she envisions sing-alongs in common areas, or movie nights that students could attend.
When asked if she would go to events with Broadview residents, Adams said it would depend on what the events were like.
“It might end up kind of like the coffee with a cop situation, where a lot of people were like, ‘I would never go to that,’” Adams said. “But I do also think that maybe, that old people aren’t cops, so it could go really well and it could be very fun.