Lincolnwood Place redecorates
Residents Fay Waldman and Evelyn Goldenberg lounge in the new seating area of the recently-revamped Lincolnwood Place. | Natasha Wasinski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:39PM
A recent redecoration of Lincolnwood Place modernized its common areas with fresh hues, new furniture and extra amenities.
The updated front entryway, lounge areas and dining rooms impressed local officials and guests who attended a June 28 ceremony to celebrate the senior retirement community’s new look.
Some residents, on the other hand, said the changes are nothing to gush about.
They thought the center was fine just the way it was.
“I was really happy with the community before and I didn’t think it was necessary to have some of these new renovations,” said Gert Zis, a six-year Lincolnwood Place resident.
She said while the lighting is better and the carpeting is an improvement, some of the aesthetic appeal of center had been lost.
Zis and others said they particularly miss a large marble fountain that greeted visitors near the front entrance.
The space was revamped into a sitting area with an elaborate chandelier dangling from above.
“They took something away when they took that fountain,” Zis said. “It was something lovely to look at.”
“And there’s nothing now.”
Executive Director Regina Umanskiy agreed that the independent living center’s interior was in good shape before the recent redecoration. That’s why she prefers to call it a “facelift.”
“We wanted to have a greater look and be attractive to Baby Boomers and older adults looking for places to retire,” she said. “It’s a good way to run a business when you constantly invest money in your product.”
The four-month-long, half-million-dollar renovation is the retirement community’s largest capital improvement project since it debuted in November 1991.
The last major remodeling occurred in 2010 in the center’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation services areas when new carpeting, furniture and flat-screen TVs were installed, according to Umanskiy.
Funding for both projects came from Lincolnwood Place owner Senior Lifestyle Corporation.
The Chicago-based, for-profit company manages 46 other senior communities in 19 states across the U.S.
A professional designer employed by the corporation developed Lincolnwood Place’s remodeling plans.
Therein lies part of the problem, a few residents allege.
“It wasn’t designed by seniors,” said Myra Kaye, president of the Lincolnwood Place residents’ council.
She attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony with her husband, Marty, who described the changes as “menza menza.”
Kaye said extra seating in the common areas was a positive change but that the plush furniture is not very senior-friendly.
Some of the community’s elderly and physically weak residents have difficulty getting up from the chairs and couches, she said.
Umanskiy said the designer, who is highly-experienced in the retirement business, took into consideration the special needs of seniors.
“She chose products that historically work well in (this type of) facility,” she said. “It’s not like decorating your own apartment of house.”
Plus, planning documents included justification for employing each of the furnishings, she said.
And while residents weren’t the decision-makers in the design work, center staff had attempted gauge their opinions, Umanskiy said.
For example, residents were able to test the different chair options before purchase and weigh in on the proposed color scheme.
But with nearly 250 people, it’s hard to please everyone’s taste.
“Everything comes down to personal style,” said Umanskiy.
A reluctance towards change is also likely a factor in some occupants’ indifference.
Fay Waldan, who chatted with a Lincolnwood Place neighbor in the new sitting area the past Tuesday afternoon, said the common areas were “nice” before the revamping but acknowledged things cannot always stay the same.
“Everything in life is change,” explained Waldman. “When you get old, you don’t like too many changes.”