I recently sat down to breakfast with a commercial real estate-focused connection whose company shares a similar experience in the senior living category to JH Greene. What I always enjoy about conversations with this contact is the common interest and related trends yet diverse functions of the property type seen from each point of view. It’s pretty interesting to separate the traditional senior housing model from the new definition. The following may challenge any prior conceptions you’ve reached on these facilities’ features and the cost implications.
Many successful senior living facilities have been dissociating with the likeness of an end of life/healthcare focused organization and seeking a more luxurious appeal. Facilities with a resident happiness-focus have been supportive of the “safe and aesthetically-focused interiors don’t have to be archaic and uncomfortable” mantra.
As Peter Fabris, contributing editor of Building Design + Construction puts it, “Design can help erase some negative preconceptions. Conveying a non-institutional look through the building’s design vernacular and finishes is a must. Designers also have to tailor spaces to meet the demands of seniors who want to keep fit—in body and mind.”
Having easily accessible healthcare amenities is a goal; however, this exists along with several other demands that Boomers are making evident as their demographic dictates much of the direction of senior housing’s design and construction tendencies.
The need for sociability is an added dimension that makes baby boomers unique. A developer of senior facilities in Florida, Jean Francois Roy, mentioned that “Baby boomers want to be with other baby boomers, and they really like to party together,” said Roy, noting that residents in his developments like to hold regular barbecues and go out together to dinners and events. “They socialize a lot. We never saw much of that in the past.”
Cost Concerns Spark Smart Construction
With these hubs becoming so popular, the prices for one 900 square foot living space can become extremely burdensome to finance. Also, the waiting lists can sometimes extend for years. Many construction firms, especially within the saturated Florida market, have been seeking methods to build these units smarter, quicker, and cheaper through alternative materials and prefabricated items. For example, prebuilt walls and bathroom pods can help save time and money in many instances.
The demand for these facilities and lack of open inventory, along with the on-going skilled labor shortage are several contributing factors to construction costs on the rise in this property type.
Investors of these facility types are smart in their search of construction managers who have previously handled these types of projects, and also require financials supporting revenue levels that don’t present risk (and additional cost) to a project if there is an issue.
Regardless of the trend, it’s exciting to see senior living break away from a dry, conventional format and seek to explore more innovative and open concepts. As a key player in senior living construction for facilities in the PA, NJ, and DE area, JH Greene looks forward to being a part of these developments.