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Innovative Senior Housing Development Takes Shape in Tucson

Watermark announces exciting partnerships and affiliations with Andrew Weil, MD, and other big names in integrative medicine for its latest development, the Hacienda at the River, after closing on a 7.5-acre site along River Rd. near Hacienda del Sol Rd.


Tucson, Ariz. – Before concrete is poured for the Hacienda at the River, longtime Tucson senior housing developer David Freshwater and his operating partner, David Barnes, are carefully laying the foundation for Tucson’s newest and most innovative senior living community by solidifying partnerships and affiliations with some of Tucson’s biggest names in integrative medicine and therapy.

Most notably, Freshwater and Barnes are teaming with Andrew Weil, MD, to oversee onsite organic gardens and establish culinary principles that will promote optimum health. Co-directors of the Arizona Center on Aging, Mindy Fain, MD, and Janko Nikolich-Zugich, MD, Ph.D., have agreed to provide team-based interdisciplinary healthcare (Fain), incorporating the latest standards and advances of geriatric research (Nikolich) to Hacienda residents, complementing their primary care. Steven Wool, M.D. will serve as medical director and private practice doctor for the community. Evan Kligman, M.D. will coordinate and act as ongoing liaison for all University of Arizona partnerships and affiliations with the Hacienda at the River and other programs under development for Freshwater and Barnes’ organization, Watermark Retirement Communities.

According to Freshwater, the Hacienda team has also entered into an agreement with Barbara K. Rector, MA, CEIP co-founder of Therapeutic Riding of Tucson and Adventures in Awareness, to direct onsite equine therapy, believed to be the first program of its kind to be permanently integrated into an assisted living community.

“We’ve seen equine therapy work so well with residents in other Watermark locations that we’ve made it central to our vision for The Hacienda at the River,” said Freshwater. “Given that The Hacienda site is historically a horse property, we feel this use is especially fitting.”

Utilizing Mission Revival architecture, reflective of the Southwest’s iconic heritage, and set on the terrace at the edge of the Rillito River near River and Hacienda del Sol roads, the Hacienda at the River is envisioned to be a new style of community for mature individuals who need assisted living, memory care, nursing and short-term rehabilitation. The Hacienda is Watermark’s branded response to a new paradigm for de-institutionalized senior living environments: elders receive care almost invisibly through universal workers integrated into the core household, creating a family-centered setting that seamlessly provides expert personal and health support. Each of the four single-story homes at the Hacienda includes a living room and kitchen, library, family room and a front porch. The homes have courtyards with mesquite and other canopy trees. Resident suites in each home have private baths and roll in showers. Nursing and rehab services will also be provided at the new community in a two-story building with the look and feel of a boutique hotel rather than a traditional, institutional nursing home.

Other features of the development will include:

  • Green building techniques including water harvesting and gray water systems, and other energy and water saving techniques leading to LEED certification;
  • On-site orchard and gardens for providing a portion of fruits and vegetables used at the community;
  • On-site restaurant and café featuring natural, organic foods (including those grown on-site) whenever possible serving residents, family members and visitors alike;
  • Two rehab facilities for short-term and outpatient services including speech, hearing, occupational, and physical therapies. The Hacienda is also planning to integrate aquatic as well as equine therapies into its rehab programming.

The purchase of the 7.5-acre site closed October 3 and groundbreaking is expected in 2013. More affiliations are in the works, to be announced.

Freshwater and Barnes are nationally noted seniors’ housing experts who happen to live in Tucson. They opened their first senior living community, The Fountains at La Cholla, 25 years ago. Watermark now operates 31 communities coast to coast.


 Tucson senior living
 Tucson assisted living
 equine therapy
 Dr. Andrew Weil
 Arizona Center on Aging

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