When Trillium Woods opens this summer in Plymouth, its developers hope the sprawling new housing project will help redefine the way seniors live — and age — in the Twin Cities metro area.

The $161 million project is being built on 46 acres of former farmland tucked away in the northeast corner of Plymouth. It will house more than 300 residents in an upscale 583,000-square-foot campus that will include apartments, an assisted living center and a clubhouse with a full range of amenities including a post office, bank and a convenience store.

The project is what is known as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) that will let residents live completely independently, yet give them access to an a la carte selection of in-home health care services. If necessary, they can also move to assisted living quarters without ever having to move off the property.

The CCRC concept is becoming increasingly popular as the first wave of baby boomers ponder the next stage of their lives. Many are seeking housing that lets them age in place rather than face a succession of moves as the need dictates.

"The idea is to make it feel like a resort, but also make it feel like home," said Victoria Duvall, the executive director of Trillium Woods. "We give them a promise that we'll take care of them for the rest of their lives."

There are just a handful of CCRCs in the Twin Cities metro, but more are on the way. This week, Presbyterian Homes and Services broke ground on Woodland Hill in Hudson, Wis., that will have 95 apartments, 46 assisted living apartments and 19 memory care apartments connected to a 30,000-square-foot "town center" with a market, bistro, chapel, auditorium, library, movie theater, salon and wellness center.

The Trillium Woods project, which will have as much space as many downtown Minneapolis office towers, will have 209 units, including 14 detached "garden homes" with patios and balconies.

Next to the apartments and club room is a health center with 44 private one-bed suites where residents will get assisted living services and skilled nursing care. There are also 16 rooms for people with memory and dementia issues.

A second phase would nearly double the size of the project.

The project aims to function like a nearly self-contained village where residents will have access to many of the amenities needed for day-to-day living. There's a fitness center with personalized wellness plans and rehabilitation center, a library, several restaurants/cafes, a cocktail lounge, spa, barbershop and salon, chapel and an auditorium.

The housing component of the project will also have a variety of options, emulating some of the choices residents might get in the broader housing market. The apartments will have 14 different floor plans, including one-bedroom and two-bedroom plus den apartments.

Unlike most senior housing, residents will be neither renters nor owners. They'll pay a one-time entrance fee that ranges from $297,000 to $1 million, and a first-person monthly fee that ranges from $3,072 to $4,737, including all future long-term care that's provided by the facility. (Acute and hospital care aren't included.) If a resident moves out, 50 to 80 percent of that entrance payment is refunded, regardless of how long the resident lived on the property.

Duvall said she's taken 130 deposits so far, including one from someone who reserved the space in 2008. "Many of them are signing up because they don't want to be a burden to their children," she said.

Weitz Construction project manager, Dave Rahe, said the project will have chutes for recycling and a geothermal system for heat and air conditioning, and that the plan is to seek LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The project is being developed by Life­Care Services and Westminster Capital, which are joint-venture partners. LCS also developed Friendship Village in Bloomington, which is now operated by another firm.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376