Plans move forward for Mills River retirement community

Plans for a continuing care retirement community on 112 acres off Jeffress Road are moving forward after the Town of Mills River recently greenlighted a revised site plan.

The project was originally approved by the city council in 2008, but faced delays due to the recession and the housing crisis. Plans were then revived in 2019. Legacy at Mills River is now expected to be completed by the end of 2024. Site preparation work is currently underway.

“Under our current approval status, we can begin site preparation work,” sales and marketing manager Elizabeth Ford told The Times-News. “This is currently underway as we have submitted erosion and stormwater plans to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and are awaiting their approval. We plan to go vertical with construction in the first quarter of 2023.”

The community promises residents “the benefits and independence of home ownership, while living hassle-free in a seniors’ community with access to licensed private home care, supported living, home care memory and skilled nursing”.

The project comprises 137 homes located in two five-story buildings, which also include club amenities such as restaurants, a fitness and wellness center, a performing arts center, a movie theater and a primary care clinic. The campus will also include 80 single-family and duplex homes, a health center, walking trails, a dog park, pickleball and bocce courts, a putting green, as well as an event lawn and fishing pond.

Ford said the project is attracting potential residents from across the country, noting growing interest from New York, Florida and California.

Legacy will be the first licensed continuing care retirement community built from the ground up in western North Carolina in more than 20 years, according to Ford. Upon opening, more than 350 seniors will have the opportunity to live on the property. A total of 221 homes are available for sale in the current phase.

Ford explained that although the town of Mills River originally approved the plans in 2008, the mortgage and real estate crisis during that time caused a protracted delay. In 2019, Legacy received approval from the State Department of Insurance to enter a booking phase. As part of this milestone, Legacy received a start-up certificate and became legally authorized to enter into binding reservation agreements with customers.

Three factors contributed to the delay of the most recent project: the COVID-19 pandemic, the new Legacy model and the regulatory process.

“We started taking bookings in 2019, certainly not expecting a global pandemic, but we have remained focused on the goal of bringing a new model of CCRC to the western part of the state,” said David Ammons, president of Raleigh-based Retirement Living Associates. and one of the main developers. “We have been overwhelmed by the positive response from people who recognize the benefits of continuing to own their own home while living in a new, state-of-the-art retirement community. The Town of Mills River’s endorsement is a big step forward in making Legacy a reality.

Legacy continues to accept fully refundable 10% reservation deposits to select a home. Home prices start at $500,000 and top $1.6 million. In 2019, when Legacy started taking bookings, the price range was $400,000 to $1.2 million.

“Our home prices are like any home you can buy – they adjust based on supply, demand and appreciation,” Ford said. “I think we can all agree that WNC home prices have appreciated significantly since 2019 based on these three factors and current Legacy prices reflect these trends.”

With Legacy’s current pricing model, the low end is a one-bedroom apartment starting at $503,000 with monthly fees of $2,582. Monthly fees include utilities, meals, housekeeping, laundry service, grounds maintenance, programs and activities, and transportation. At the high end of apartment living options, penthouses range from $797,390 to $1.62 million, with monthly fees between $3,390 and $7,110. Semi-detached homes start at $734,500 with monthly fees starting at $2,780. Two-bedroom homes start at over $1 million with monthly fees of $3,890, and three-bedroom homes start at nearly $1.2 million with monthly fees of $4,510.

Legacy exceeded its reservation goal and as of last week has 121 reservations, and Ford notes that number is constantly changing.

She said Legacy is currently putting together a package for Stage 3 approval at the NCDOI. Continuing care communities are regulated by the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

Legacy’s core design and engineering teams are comprised of locally-based architectural, engineering and land-use planning firms including: ARCA Design, McMillian Pazdan Smith Architecture, Beau Welling Design and Civil Design Concepts, Beverly-Grant being the general contractor.

For more information on legacy at Mills River, visit