Seattle native Gussie Stusser was so excited to move into her new apartment at The Summit, the Kline Galland Center’s new retirement apartments on First Hill, that she insisted on moving in on opening day and spent her first night there without any neighbors.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t live to make this,” said the beaming 88-year-old. “I’m so happy.”
When asked to give some surprise visitors an impromptu tour of her new apartment this past Monday, Gussie, who moved in on Jan. 22, pointed out the beautiful view, which is “so pretty at night.” She said she likes the place, the Jewish atmosphere, the food and the people, including her new neighbors who are in the process of moving in and the Summit staff. “Everybody is putting themselves out for us,” she added. “I’m thrilled to be here.”
Many of her new neighbors are people she has made friends with over the years, and she looks forward to making some new friends as well.
Around the corner lives another Gussie, who moved into The Summit last week from her home in Seward Park. Gussie Salzberg, 87, had everything unpacked when surprise guests knocked on her door on Monday. They had been led to her apartment by the wonderful smell of cookies baking.
The Kline Galland Home volunteer said she had been treated royally at The Summit and said the “meals are fantastic.” Every resident on the independent floors gets one meal a day in the communal dining room, which from linens to gourmet meals has much more in common with a fancy restaurant than a cafeteria. They can choose to cook their other meals in their own kitchens; go out to eat or buy a meal in the dining room.
Chef Ron Youmans says he specializes in updated classics and has already won rave reviews for his fluffy matza balls made with ginger ale. The Summit has three kosher kitchens — meat, dairy and a pareve bakery — and three dining rooms. Two of the dining rooms are on the assisted living floor, where one side is reserved for residents in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of the most thoughtful architecture can be found in the Alzheimer’s wing of the building, including an enclosed courtyard for enjoying the outdoors and locked window boxes outside each apartment for displaying personal items that will help the residents find their way home. This is a touch that would have been appreciated on every floor of the tower. Security, which is tight throughout the complex, is especially so in this part of The Summit. Residents will wear bracelets that prevent them from wandering off the floor by preventing doors from unlocking.
Josh Gortler, chief executive officer of the Kline Galland Center, said the first residents of The Summit are moving in slowly, to give them time to get used to their new surroundings and to allow the staff more time to help people get settled. Between 20 and 30 apartments were expected to be occupied by the end of this week. It should take until April 1 for everyone who has rented so far to move in.
Ninety-three of The Summit’s 122 apartments have been reserved so far. About 200 people put up deposits, but the rest are not quite ready to move in, according to Gortler. Monthly rents range from $1,400 for a studio to $6,510 for a penthouse suite, although a number of apartments have been set aside for low-income residents. Some apartments have private decks and all above the third floor have a view. Gortler said the rental office still welcomes inquiries at 206-652-4444, although he expects the building will be entirely rented by June. The Kline Galland hopes to build a second tower in about five or six years, using the same financial partnership of donations and private investment.
The Summit staff began moving in about three months ago, but construction crews were still putting the finishing touches on the small synagogue, the activity center and the fitness center on Monday. Books have not been moved into the library, but the kitchen is in full swing, along with a coffee bar serving continental breakfasts and lattés all day long. One of the hold-ups in the library was the imminent arrival of several new display cases to hold $250,000 worth of art glass being donated by Dale Chihuly. The outdoor furniture for the café patio and the roof garden has not been unpacked, but few Summit residents will be interested in sitting outside in the winter.
The beauty shop and wellness center are ready, but not too busy yet. The lovely meeting rooms and social gathering places are getting some traffic, and The Summit will welcome its first guests to use its public meeting spaces when the Seattle Cardozo Society, a division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle meets there for a dinner, meeting on Feb. 15.
Even if you’re not quite ready for a retirement community, visit The Summit to get some design ideas for your own home. The building, designed by Mithun architects and built by general contractor Sellen, is lovely.