For 25 years, Oak Crest has been the preferred choice for retirement living in northern Baltimore. Although times have changed, Oak Crest, known for its beautiful campus-like community, resort-style amenities, and outstanding value, has remained a leader in changing the way people view and spend their retirement.
"Being true to our values and culture has been a big key to Oak Crest's continued success," says Senior Regional Communications Manager Jeff Getek, who will celebrate 13 years with the company in October. "When you walk through the campus, people say 'hello' and genuinely care about each other. It feels like family."
In the spring of 1994, construction workers cleared the old Campbell Quarry site adjacent to Joppa Road in Parkville. A few months later, on June 20, the ground-breaking for what would become the 87-acre campus took place. In less than ten months, the first residents moved into the Walden Court resident building. Since then, Oak Crest has grown to over 2,100 residents, served by 1,250 full and part-time employees.
Today, Oak Crest residents have access to a wide variety of amenities, including 24-hour security and emergency services, an all-season swimming pool, fitness center, putting green, bocce courts, more than 170 different clubs, classes, and volunteer possibilities, as well as access to conveniences such as a bank, hair salon, convenience store, on-site medical center, and computer lab.
But Oak Crest is more than just about choosing a new home with the latest amenities—it's about improving community members' quality of life.
"The high levels of socialization and engagement mean there is truly something for everyone," says Getek. "Residents are not shy about forming fun clubs and activities, volunteering in the greater community, and being great neighbors to each other."
Associate Executive Director Bill Tian says the key to Oak Crest's longevity has been their ability to meet the needs of the people who already live there, while also looking toward the future and attracting the next generation of retirees.
"We recognize the importance of celebrating the traditions that have made Oak Crest a great community. We also acknowledge that in order to grow and attract new people, we have to embrace change. It's a balancing act. Oak Crest has successfully done both and has grown stronger over the years as a result," says Tian.
In 2017, Oak Crest's 57,000 square-foot Town Center clubhouse underwent a $30-million renovation, which included an expanded fitness center, a new 25-meter indoor heated swimming pool, two new dining venues, a new hair salon, library, and classroom, as well as redesigned outdoor areas, including dual Bocce ball courts and an outdoor seating area with a fountain.
"Oak Crest's leaders and corporate partners deserve credit for providing outstanding services and amenities to current residents while keeping an eye toward the future," says Getek. "Every business must evolve to some degree, and Oak Crest has done just that. The Town Center repositioning project that brought an expanded fitness and aquatics center, outdoor dining, and the 1812 Restaurant and Bar is a prime example of that innovation. And there's more to look forward to in the next two years with the Village Square project. It's an exciting time to live and work at Oak Crest!"
To honor the community's 25th anniversary, Tian says a variety of different events are planned throughout the upcoming year.
"All of our routine annual activities—whether it's an employee picnic or our annual gala—will feature a 25th anniversary spin," says Tian. "A variety of other events are also planned, including a pioneer brunch that will celebrate our pioneer residents and employees and a Resident Advisory Council dinner, which will include members from the last 25 years.
"Each month, we will also be focusing on a different anniversary history topic," continues Tian. "In our community newsletter, as well as on our in-house TV station, we will highlight things that have contributed to Oak Crest's overall success and what makes it so unique. For example, in January, we started with the history of the community and featured photos of the original construction. In February, we highlighted the many different clubs, groups, and service organizations on campus. We hope that these will be conversation starters and serve as a great opportunity for residents and staff to reminisce. Anniversaries like this are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the past and look forward to the future. We want to do a good balance of both."