Z is for ... the owners of the Seasons active retirement residences just off Koke Mill Road on Conifer Drive in Springfield. Z stands for Zaubi, as in the family built-owned-operated Seasons Pine Creek and Seasons Under the Oaks. For the residents, Z clearly stands for Zest, as in zest for freedom and independence. It's a mutually rewarding relationship. We talked with Zane Zaubi, who showed off Pine Creek and introduced some of the residents.
Mary Viner, 80, was preparing a classic pea-and-cheese cube salad for the evening's potluck supper when we rang the bell of her pretty, light, one-bedroom apartment. "I moved in four years ago this March," she says, and wishes she'd made the move earlier.
Viner sold her Leland Grove home of 29 years and loves the freedom. "I wish I'd been here 10 years ago. I got tired of taking care of it. The leaves. The gum balls." Here, she says, "I can look out the window and see someone mowing my lawn – and it's not me! I run around quite a bit visiting my grandchildren. All I have to do here is walk out and lock the door. I don't even have to stop the mail when I leave town.
"This is the best-kept secret in Springfield," Viner continues. "You can sit out and make friends. It's not like a high-rise, where you don't know people."
Viner has high praise for property manager Zane and his parents, Steve and Kim Zaubi, who built Seasons Pine Creek in 2005 and Seasons Under the Oaks in 2009. "The staff is the best part. They do a lot of things they don't need to do," such as hosting seasonal parties, "their treat."
Caterpillar retiree Ron Thompson and his wife feel the same way about the staff. "Zane's on a pedestal with us."
And it's not just Mel-O-Cream days, guest bands, cocktail hours and other special activities throughout the week that the residents and staff enjoy. "There's just something different about when you walk through the Seasons doors," Zane says. "It's togetherness and community, not that 'nursing home' feel. It's so inviting."
Creating a family feel was the Zaubis' goal from the start. "It's completely family-owned and operated," says Zane. "I grew up in these halls with a lot of grandmas and grandpas."
Seasons is a lease-only, independent-living, 55-plus community. It doesn't offer nursing care or memory care. However, it is fully accessible, and age-in-place services and amenities are available "a la carte," such as adaptable apartments, personal car service (not a big bus) available for $12.50 per hour for errands and appointments, and more.
"Time passes. Needs change," says Zane. "The monthly apartment lease doesn't include a list of services you don't need every month," says Zane. "but residents can bring any supportive services they may need, whether it be in-home help, grocery delivery, or other services. You have the peace of mind to have help if and when you need it, but you don't have to pay for it when you don't."
As a result, he continues, the activity level is higher and the average age is lower than at many other places. People who move into Seasons "want the freedom to really retire, not manage their sump pumps, and yard maintenance, and all the other upkeep. We have people here who still drive, still work, still travel. Seasons allows them to leave, lock the door, come back and pick up where they left off."
Lock the door and go, or stay in and relax with friends
"We do our best to promote a very active lifestyle with walking paths, exercise rooms, private patio and second entrance for every apartment, a private party room and commercial kitchen residents can use for their own events," he says, "and the simple fact of having friends who will grab you to go out for dinner. People get up and out and keep moving."
The connection to the outdoors is especially attractive for residents who like to sit outside together, watch the wildlife, visit the pond and enjoy nature. "During COVID," Zane says, "residents would tell me they were going out to meet at the corner pub." It turns out, several of them had adjacent corner apartments where they would sit outside on their patios and have cocktails in the evening together, all socially distanced. Friendly. "You get the truest sense of community here," Zane says. People actually 'neighbor'."
Bonita Mathews, age 79, had moved from Pawnee into Seasons Pine Creek three days before we met in February. "It's so relaxing here. That's what it's all about. To relax and enjoy things. It's an absolutely beautiful place, and everyone's so friendly. I'm so pleased to be here. It's like a whole load's been lifted off my shoulders."
The Zaubis' vision of an active retirement community works for Springfield's senior housing market. "Springfield is such a deeply rooted community." Zane says, "I see people who love to travel, but they want to keep a home base here."
Packets that detail features, prices and floor plans are available in the properties' lobbies. For a closer look, tours are available by appointment. For anyone researching a possible move, Zane encourages inquiring about annual rate increases, (3% every other year at Seasons) "to understand the commitment you're making."
It's not the biggest property in town. "We have 60 units," Zane says, "to make sure people can have friends and make friends and feel comfortable. Finding the right size was important to my dad and mom. This is the dream they chased. There is a small Z over the front door. There is a huge sense of pride being a small piece of these people's lives. We're very passionate about it."
Seasons offers one- and two-bedroom ground-level suites with interconnecting corridors and private patios. Prices start at less than $1,500, including all utilities except phone and cable television. Lease rates go up based on size, features and amenities. For more information, call 217-698-5780, or visit www.seasonsseniorliving.com.
DiAnne Crown is a frequent contributor to Illinois Times and notices an increased frequency of senior living assignments. Coincidence?