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Community Development

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Expansion Update:

Westminster-Canterbury breaks ground on Phase 1 of Expansion Project

On Wednesday, October 6, 2021, Mayor Bobby Dyer, Councilmembers Michael Berlucchi and Linwood Branch joined CEO Ben Unkle and other Westminster-Canterbury leaders for our groundbreaking ceremony that marked the start of construction on our new seven-story Assisted Living and Memory Enrichment Center. The building will include 75 Assisted Living and 48 Memory Enrichment apartments as well as dining and activity rooms, patio areas and parking. Our academic partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University will mean best-in-the-nation programming for the Memory Enrichment residents with Alzheimer's and other forms of Dementia.


Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay has been a part of the Shore Drive community for nearly four decades. Currently, we are privileged to serve the housing, hospitality and healthcare needs of more than 680 residents. 

The Need

The demographics of our region indicate Virginia Beach is facing a looming crisis: an acute shortage in senior housing and services. 

In a study published last year by Plante Morane, one of the nation’s largest CPA Business Advisory firms, Virginia Beach was listed as one of the top three metropolitan areas in the nation with the greatest unmet future need for senior housing. A second study by LeadingAge Virginia forecasts the “Silver Tsunami” in Virginia Beach will increase the senior population by nearly 50% in the next ten years.

These studies reflect our experience at Westminster-Canterbury. While our campus has grown over the past two decades, it still cannot keep up with the demand to serve residents of Virginia Beach and the greater Hampton Roads community. Currently, we have a waitlist of more than 500 families who have given us a deposit to secure a place in our community.  Most are from Virginia Beach.

Our History in Meeting the Housing Needs of Seniors: Including Those with Moderate Income 

We were founded by leading citizens of the area for the benefit of Hampton Roads and under the governance of two Christian churches. Members of these churches still control a majority of the Board of Trustees to ensure we remain faithful to our mission. We use all of our money to serve our residents and support charitable endeavors. This includes ensuring affordability and quality of services. There are no private owners (shareholders/owners) to take private profits out of our 501(c)(3) corporation.  

As a faith-based organization, giving back is in our DNA. We price one-third of our apartments below the cost of lifetime services provided by Westminster-Canterbury. This makes our community as affordable as possible to people of varying economic means*. Through the Westminster-Canterbury Foundation, living in our community is made possible for another 10% of our residents. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided more than $14 million in financial support to residents. This is in addition to the subsidized prices for one-third of our apartment homes. 

*Our non-profit Life Plan community offers one-bedroom and studio apartments in our East Tower for an average monthly fee of $3,401 per month. The median monthly income of people 65+ in Virginia Beach is $5,240 per month. 

Our Project

In order to help solve this housing shortfall, Westminster-Canterbury submitted an application to the City of Virginia Beach, modifying our existing use permit to add 217 new independent living apartment homes and build 75 assisted living residences and 48 memory residences. This project is budgeted at approximately $400 million dollars and is the largest private capital investment in the City’s history, with no public taxpayer financial contribution. 

The Design

We assembled a team of extraordinary professionals to carry out our vision for the project. Our architects are recognized as one of the leading senior housing firms in the country. One of their projects in Dallas was just named one of the ten best senior housing communities in the United States. They understand how important it is to create a community that will be both elegant and compliant with all local, state and federal requirements for senior housing. 

The glass and white cladding on the new Independent Living building was chosen because these materials offer the best protection against wind-driven rain. Other highrise buildings on Shore Drive are also white.  Brick is porous to water and many buildings near the Bay can develop water intrusion problems, particularly in high wind storms. Some building codes do not allow glass with a reflective coefficient of 20% or more out of concern for solar reflection. Our architects have gone further and designed our new expansion with glass that has a reflective coefficient between 9% and 13% (lower is better), so solar reflection will not be an issue for our neighbors. 

Environment and Sustainability 

In addition, we are challenging ourselves to design, build, and operate our expanded community with sustainability in mind. It is vitally important to us to be good stewards of the environment while improving everyone’s quality of life.

With the construction of a four-story parking garage, Westminster-Canterbury will significantly reduce the amount of surface parking currently on all of the parcels of land scheduled for redevelopment. In addition, we will decrease the amount of impervious area on the redeveloped parcels. We will also introduce new stormwater management systems for these three parcels, resulting in better water quality and water quantity controls. We are excited to build rain gardens, infiltration areas, pervious parking areas, where possible, as well as install solar panels in strategic locations on the buildings.

Due Diligence

  • Traffic - We have studied how the project will affect traffic conditions. To that end, we commissioned an independent study, which concluded traffic volume will be less during all hours of the day, including peak morning and afternoon hours, compared to keeping the restaurant and building an alternative mixed-age, low-rise condominium development like the rest of Ocean Shore Ave. We also conducted our own study based on actual traffic counts in and out of Westminster-Canterbury at peak hours. Those figures were even lower than the traffic study projected.

Click here to view our Traffic Study.

  • Parking - With regards to parking, the expansion will include a parking garage that will house 385 resident and staff vehicles, effectively removing them from sight and also reducing on-street parking congestion. When the expansion is completed, we will provide approximately 1,086 parking spaces, 314 more than required by the City zoning ordinance.
  • Beach Access - The beach along the Bay is public and will always be a public beach! We will enhance public access. Our plans include a wide and landscaped beach access walkway that is handicapped accessible from Ocean Shore Avenue to the beach. Based on input from our local Civic League, we are producing specific photos to see how the tides might impact the beach access on both sides of the pier. The pier has been in place for many years and access to both sides of the beach has been maintained and will continue to be maintained. To ensure this access, we will monitor low- and high-tides under the pier as we proceed with the project.

  • Solar Study – The spring and summer beach months are always of interest to residents and visitors, alike, so we have studied how our expansion may affect the beach. The existing buildings along the Bay and those of our planned expansion face north to south, unlike the buildings on the Oceanfront, which face east to west. With this north to south building orientation, the result is almost no impact on the beach during the critical summer months, with some residual impact during the “shoulder” months -- not unlike the surrounding existing condominium projects to our east and west.

Click here to view Solar Study Photos

Looking Ahead - In an effort to keep our neighbors, friends and other interested parties informed, this page will be continually updated with fresh information about our expansion project as plans develop.

If you have additional questions, please contact us at [email protected] or you can call the expansion hotline at 757-217-2447

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Resident Testimonials

Hear What Residents Say About Their Roads To Retirement.

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  • You can't cut off your life because of COVID. You have to be careful, but you need to keep living. Westminster-Canterbury makes it easier to do that. Dr. George Franklin, Resident
  • The key to a healthy retirement is to remain active.  The key to remaining active is to live at Westmnster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay! Dick Binford, Resident
  • The best decision I ever made was to move to Westminster! Joan Lottman, Resident
  • I have lived here for almost two years and I absolutely love it! Moving here is the best decision I ever made in my life! My children might not realize it now, but coming here is the best present I have ever given them. Beverly Griffin, Resident
  • A huge thank you to all the Westminster-Canterbury staff for all that they are doing for us during these challenging times! Special thank you to Catering for their off-campus pickups for us! Vera Jean Russell, Resident
  • Thank you for everything you do everyday to keep us happy, healthy and safe!! No place I’d rather be!!️ Shirley Wharton, Resident
  • We're more active and have more friends. It feels like my family has quadrupled in size. We have a more active lifestyle. There are so many things to do and be part of. Our home now is like living in a resort. Brenda Leonhirth Ladell, Resident
  • Thanks for helping take great care of our parents. We miss seeing them, but glad you’re taking every precaution to ensure we’ll get that chance when this blows over! Karen Costenbader Bradley, Family Member of Resident
  • Stone Rehab went over 100% above and beyond expectations! Joan Lottman, Resident, Stone Rehab experience
  • Thanks to Ben Unkle, CEO of Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay for making this [www.birdsongtablet.com] technology available around the world! LeadingAge Virginia
  • The best decision I ever made was coming to WC 6 years ago. Everyone is very professional, they know their job & they do it well. I was healthy and independent 6 years ago when I moved here & now I'm experiencing episodes of back pain that Stone Rehab is helping me with. It's a marvelous place! Joan Lottman, Resident, Stone Rehab experience
  • It’s hard for me to believe that I have not been off campus for almost five months with the exception of three doctor’s visits. Yet, I am perfectly content. I have had the opportunity to leave since March, but continue to choose to stay here where I feel safer and my days can be filled with many of the activities you have provided. Connie Rutledge, Resident

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