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Westborough's New Community Helps Seniors Cruise

The Highlands Gracious Retirement Living holds its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at 129 East Main St. (Route 30), across from the Westborough Post Office. A ribbon cutting is at 1:30 p.m.

A tour of The Highlands Gracious Retirement Living. Video by Michael Gelbwasser.
A tour of The Highlands Gracious Retirement Living. Video by Michael Gelbwasser.
A new theater in Westborough shows movies, and will host a Super Bowl party next Sunday.

Upstairs, residents are borrowing books from the library. And playing Scrabble.

Welcome to The Highlands Gracious Retirement Living.

The new retirement community for ages 55 and older holds its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at 129 East Main St. (Route 30), across from the Westborough Post Office. A ribbon cutting is at 1:30 p.m.

"It's kind of like a cruise ship for our residents that never leaves port," Hawthorn Retirement Group Regional Director Bob McCarthy said Friday.

"We provide everything -- meals, entertainment, activities -- all within their apartment rent."

The 124-unit, three-floor complex has more than 43 residents, the first of whom moved in around Nov. 22, McCarthy said.

"And we've got a number of apartments that are already spoken for. They just haven't moved in yet.

"It's filling fast for us."

Hawthorn officials were inspired to develop The Highlands because its other community in Massachusetts, Colonial Gardens Gracious Retirement Living in Beverly, "has been very successful for us," McCarthy said.

The Westborough site had several appealing features, including the wetlands behind it, the Westborough Post Office across the street, he said.

"And, obviously, the demographics. It's a nice New England town that obviously pulls the right demographics when it comes to seniors," McCarthy said.

The Highlands' first floor includes a common area with a dance floor -- where residents recently danced to an Elvis impersonator -- seating, a kitchen for "if (residents) want to come down and cook or bake," and an ice cream machine, he said.

"A chef will come in once a month, and he'll do some cooking with the residents, whether it's display cooking, give them some samples," McCarthy said.

A theater down the hall from this bistro offers movies, with surround sound, he said.

A Super Bowl party is planned.

"We can have food and sit and watch the game," McCarthy said.

The first floor also includes a beauty salon, operated by a local salon owner, he said.

"We put them in all our communities. It's a nice added feature for our residents," McCarthy said.

The second floor includes a computer room with WiFi, a TV area, a game room for Scrabble and cards, and a library.

"A lot of the books came donated from residents. They move in, and they say, 'Hey, I've got four boxes of books,'" McCarthy said.

"We started out with a few. But before long, we'll be full."

The Highlands' hallways are extra wide, with a handrail on one side, so that "if somebody has some stability issues, they have something to hold onto," McCarthy said.

The community's average age is about 83, he said.

Some apartment doors are decorated with a "Home Sweet Home" welcome sign.

"You'll see a number of those on apartments that have already been spoken for," McCarthy said.

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