by Drew Steffens | 4 min. read
Historically, senior housing has been cast to the outskirts of our communities, but demands for senior housing have evolved along with the real estate to accommodate them. This is exemplified by today’s Baby Boomer generation, comprising 22% of the U.S. population.1 As Boomers began entering retirement age in 2011, they introduced unique preferences for their later life housing. Increased demand from this group has been dubbed ‘The Silver Tsunami’. Make no mistake, the tsunami has made landfall and has brought new ideas regarding how future generations will prefer to spend their Golden Years.
The Power of Convenience
A far cry from the poorhouses and tenements that housed the elderly in the early 20th century, today’s retirees are choosing comfortable communities and housing that accommodates them as they age. Seniors are seeking communities that offer an active lifestyle and sense of connection to family and neighbors. While many retirement communities tout these features, traditional models and secluded locations make them less appealing to today’s retirees.
"Retiring Baby Boomers want convenient access to retail, dining, housing, entertainment and health care. Can you guess what generation shares these same demands and purchase patterns? The Millennials."
Accommodating an active lifestyle and sense of connection requires bringing diverse amenities and people together. The real estate industry calls this mixed-use development, and examples are common in downtown areas that mix retail and residential uses (first floor retail with second story apartments).
Mixed-use development (juxtaposing retail, housing and recreational uses) is not a new concept. In fact, mixed-use development can be seen in cities throughout the world that have grown organically without government regulations dictating the type and location of new construction. It is a natural phenomenon to live, work and play all within the same neighborhood.
This natural phenomenon can be simplified to one word… convenience.
Retiring Baby Boomers want convenient access to retail, dining, housing, entertainment and health care and are willing to pay for it. Can you guess what generation shares these same demands and purchase patterns? The Millennials.
This cross generational lifestyle preference makes mixed-use environments near college campuses, beach towns and urban centers ideal for both the aging retiree and young socialite.
Suburban and Urban Models
On the suburban side of the spectrum you find Moravian Manor nestled in the rural town of Lititz, Pennsylvania in Lancaster County. Moravian Manor is a retirement community offering a variety of accommodations including cottages, townhomes, and detached homes in various neighborhoods, to fit the lifestyle of the resident. All are located within a comfortable walking distance to a vibrant downtown full of trendy eateries, cafes, and craft beer.
The beauty of the design of Moravian Manor is its seamless integration into existing neighborhoods. Warwick Woodlands is the latest project from Moravian Manor and sports a variety of carriage homes and apartments situated on a 72-acre parcel that bridges two existing housing developments.
According to Moravian Manor CEO and President David Swartley, “There’s just not a distinct separation between where our facilities start and stop. You’ll see community members, school kids and seniors all using the same sidewalks and interacting.”2
On the flip side of these suburban projects, developers are also building up, rather than out, in dense urban areas. Senior living providers Merrill Gardens and Maplewood are increasing their focus on in-fill development and constructing large high-rise buildings in cities like Seattle and New York City.
Maplewood’s latest project, Inspīr Manhattan, in New York City promotes “Modern Senior Living” featuring high end amenities and specialized health care all in one high rise. Inspīr Manhattan seeks to bring culture and opportunities of the big city to their residents. “Not all our residents can walk or hail a cab,” said Maplewood Chairman and CEO, Greg Smith. “For them, we need to bring the cultural opportunities inside the building.”3
(update 11/05/21) A project closer to home, Landis Place on King is a 55+ community currently under construction in Lancaster City. The project is described as, “The convenient West King Street location has the Bravo Grocery Store next door and several key amenities of the city within walking distance, including Central Market, the Ware Center, and the Fulton Theater. Situated directly in the downtown neighborhood, this placement offers residents many ways to be involved in the culture of Lancaster City.” 4
Whether nestled in a small town or dense city center, senior housing developers are recognizing the demands of the Silver Tsunami, and are positioning to respond.
1 ESRI 2019 Population Totals, Business Analyst
2 Miles, Ryan. (2013, December 3). Connected Community. Retrieved from https://www.efamagazine.com/trends/connected-community/
3 Smith, Andy. (2018, May 3). The Next Wave of Mixed-Use Senior Housing Development. Retrieved from https://info.seniorlivinginnovationforum.com/blog/the-next-wave-of-mixed-use-senior-housing-development