Not your granny’s retirement home: Chicago developers up their game as more seniors demand posh amenities

Luxury, new technology, mental stimulation, fine dining — some seniors moving into retirement communities bring with them high standards.

And their demands are being met as more Chicago developers up their amenity game, challenging the traditional retirement experience and countering the stereotypes people may have about senior living.

Belmont Village Lincoln Park is Now Open

The entrance fee for new residents at Belmont Village is equal to one month’s rent, which starts at $6,500. This includes meals and snacks, weekly housekeeping, activities and transportation, and basic personal care, such as assistance with activities and daily living.

As retirement standards rise, it becomes easier to find improved quality in some of the more affordable senior housing options, Watson said, though most of these options are in the suburbs.

The majority of Chicago’s high-end senior homes, including Sunrise Lincoln Park, Brookdale Lake Shore Drive and Belmont Village, are located in or near Lincoln Park.

Belmont Village, which will welcome its first residents in late August, will attempt to provide everything under one roof, focusing on memory care as a core mission but offering a wide variety of enrichment programs.

“We have assisted living for residents that may be independent but require some assisted living service, such as medication management,” said Patricia Will, CEO of Belmont Village. She said the facility also has programs for mild cognitive impairment and those who need more assistance.

The facility, which looks more like a luxury condo building than a retirement home, boasts swanky amenities such as a sports lounge, art parlor, outdoor patios, theater and gym that partners with HealthPRO Heritage, all of which are fashionably furnished.

 “Today’s seniors, they’re design-savvy, they’re living longer and healthier lives, so they’re therefore more active. So the design trends, they run parallel with design trends of other demographics,” said Mary Cook, CEO of Mary Cook Associates, a Chicago-based commercial interior design firm.

During a viewing of one of Cook’s first senior home projects, she recalls a potential buyer wanting “a great place to party down, and a state-of-the-art place to work it off tomorrow.”

Located a few blocks from DePaul University, like The Clare, Belmont Village hopes to eventually collaborate on programming with the university.

Will said that while the facility isn’t yet serving many Baby Boomers, she expects that will change. “I think 10 years from now, when (they) start to come of age for senior living and care, they will be coming full force.” To that end, Chicago will likely see even more of these high-end senior communities.

“If there’s one quote you could say the baby boomers live by, it’s ‘do not go gentle into that good night,’” Watson said.

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