Located at 7450 Olivetas Ave., White Sand's residential units offer ocean-front apartments to studios, and include assisted or independent living, a memory unit and skilled nursing.
Right on the beach, White Sands is one of the few retirement communities anywhere in California that can make that claim.
Construction on White Sands' South Wing Project, begun in March 2016, included the renovation of its main lobby and chapel, the addition of a new elevator, bistro and bar, plus a newly reimagined library.
Another project involving White Sands Middle Wing, which started in late June 2017, was a complete remodel of the corridors including new furniture and art.
Anita Holmes, president of White Sands Residents Association, acknowledged the retirement center’s rehabilitation was “challenging,” but pointed out, “It was all worth it.”
Holmes noted the recent renovation of White Sands, originally built in 1956 as a hotel, started out small, then ballooned.
“White Sands needed to be updated to be competitive, was looking tired,” said Holmes. “An alternate dining venue, which most continuing-care retiree communities now have, needed to be added. Originally, it was just kind of a fix and finish, with new carpeting and paint in the main public spaces. But it turned into an entire remodel of the west campus.”
The 62-year-old original buildings were first added to with a north wing (now a health center) that was joined by an east campus in 2007.
“The north wing didn’t have air conditioning,” said Holmes. “Then they decided to redo all the hallways. Then they decided you couldn’t just do that with half the property. So they did one wing. But they couldn’t stop there, and did the other wing.”
“This is a remodernization of our campus,” Gary Boreiro, White Sands executive director said previously. “We've added new amenities like a new bistro bar and an elevator. It's all coastal elegance.”
White Sands refit created a second dining option for residents, as well as adding a new ocean bar with an indoor-outdoor appeal.
Holmes said the reaction to the update has been overwhelming.
“Everyone who comes in is just bowled over,” she said. “They’re just blown away by how it looks, and the location, of course.”
But the renovation was a trial, admitted Holmes.
“It was very hard on the residents having no space to gather really,” she said. “It was very hard on the staff too, having to deal with all the constant construction noise, and everything was dirty all the time.”
Following are excerpts from staff/residents on White Sands remodel:
• “So much is fresh and bright now. But the real beauty is the lifestyle, made possible by the unchanging philosophy of the administration and staff: Offer residents the most opportunities for the best life for the longest possible time.” — residents Rodger and Mary Heglar.
• “The results are awesome. Now, we are living in more elegance than we ever dreamed of. I can swim laps in the heated pool or go to the gym... At noon I can come by the Bistro for a tasty lunch. In the evening, I may visit the Ocean View Lounge for a glass of wine. After that a complete dinner selection in the dining room with the sun setting… The whole place is quite impressive.” — resident Ed Brennan.
“I am currently enrolled in the cosmetology program at City College, and a BIG thank you to the White Sands residents who donate money to the scholarship fund known as REAP. …The residents really show concern in all of the employees’ futures. … I couldn’t be luckier than to have such a resource … Not just for the scholarship, but for the advice and love the residents give me/all of us. — Daniel Gasca White Sands server
• “We endured two years of disruptive construction where we never knew which doorway, elevator or hallway would be closed. … We love it even more (now) because we lived through the commotion. Our theme is coastal elegance and indeed it is—sea and sand depicted on the walls of our hallways, ocean blue and warm tones of beige decorating our furniture and carpets. … As our surroundings have been renovated so are we, feeling equally renewed as we sit in the new armchairs or at the new bar overlooking the ocean. It is all conducive to our new feelings of peace, security and home.” — resident Natasha Josefowitz.
•” It felt and looked like a war zone during construction, jackhammering and dust all over. The only place where residents could feel at home was the main dining room … There would be many days of meetings coaching servers on our mission "to enrich the lives of seniors every day.” We knew that our positive attitude, outlook and camaraderie on the situation would be impactful to all the residents.” — Mary Lovick, dietary supervisor.
“Living here is not quite like being on a cruise ship tied up to the jewel of La Jolla, but it is getting closer.” — resident Chuck Marsh