Oklahoma City seniors scramble to find new home as community closes

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Pensioners at Canterbury Fountains in Oklahoma City were reeling on Tuesday after the property management company announced it would close its sprawling property later this year.

A statement from Watermark Retirement Communities, the management company that currently operates the property, said the closure was due to financial constraints.

“On June 28, 2022, The Fountains at Canterbury, a seniors community in Oklahoma City, announced that it would begin the process of permanently closing the community. Like many other businesses, The Fountains at Canterbury has faced ongoing challenges related to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years. Unfortunately, the financial prospects of continuing as an elderly community could not be sustained,” public relations officer Vicki Doyle said in an email to KFOR on Tuesday. “In making this difficult decision, Watermark, the community management company, has assembled a team to help residents, families and associates through this transition.”

The Northwest Oklahoma City retirement community offers several residential options for seniors with varying levels of independence who told KFOR they are now scrambling to find new homes.

“There is no choice. We went out. We have to find something [else] satisfactory,” Jay Spoonheimer said in an interview with KFOR.

Canterbury Fountains in Oklahoma City

The eldest said he and his wife moved to the property over four years ago and thought it would be their last move.

“We have a third-floor apartment that overlooks the pond. You see the geese and the birds and it’s really nice,” he added.

“[Now]I am 91 years old and [about to be] homeless,” he clearly stated. “I’m a man of faith, so I trust it will work out. It’s just not pleasant.

As reported by Senior Housing Newsin November 2021, Welltower, Inc. announced agreements to acquire several properties, including a group of properties managed by Watermark Retirement Communities, the operator of The Fountains at Canterbury.

Welltower, Inc. has also been cited as “the largest senior housing owner in the USA.”

According to its most recent portfolio listing, the company owns 13 properties across Oklahoma, including six properties in Edmond, Norman and Oklahoma City.

Spoonheimer told KFOR he was worried about the emotional toll the upheaval would have on the community.

“We had a woman today who we believe had a stroke,” he added. “Well, what caused it? Could it be the stress? We don’t know for sure.

For Sue-Ann Johnson, 88, the prospect of moving to a new place is frightening and confusing.

“Where are you moving to?” What are you going to do? That’s all we’re talking about,” she said as she sat on a bench outside her building.

Johnson said she has been suffering from depression since hearing the news.

“I spent two days in bed. I just couldn’t face the reality,” she said. “Everyone seems to be down.”

“We did everything together, we looked after each other, we helped each other,” her friend Pat Glasser said, pausing.

“It’s bad enough that we have to move, but to break up our own family, everyone goes their own way,” she finally said.

While neighbors have said they hope for a solid solution, they are in limbo until they know where they will go next.

“Well, hopefully the property will be good for those of us who are being laid off,” Jay said, while saying he hasn’t heard from management. “I mean, do good finances, we do it well, helping us move, that kind of stuff. I think it’s the responsibility.

“I don’t think I have long to live anyway…I was hoping it would be here,” Sue-Ann added.

Watermark representatives said they are working with residents, families and associates to “navigate a smooth transition, including connecting them with other seniors communities in the area.”

More information is available on their website at canterbury.watermarkcommunities.com.