Senior living projects in city centers are not for the faint of heart. Between high land and construction costs, site scarcity, lengthy entitlement processes and sticker shock for lenders, taking on this type of development is no easy endeavor—and that’s not to mention design constraints.
But given the unique strategies the majority of senior living communities employ in order to fit into specific city settings, whether that’s high-rise structures or mixed-use construction, there’s much opportunity for creativity, innovation and success.
Hottest Design Trends
Once financing is secured and development plans are smoothed out, special attention needs to be paid to the design of senior living buildings in city centers.
From figuring out how to install green spaces in concrete jungles to completely altering the way the industry things about amenities and programming, there are several trends that have the potential to bring city senior living to a whole new level.
For example, one hot trend is to blend buildings into the fabric of the city. Belmont Village Senior Living has taken this approach with its development in Chicago’s upscale Lincoln Park neighborhood, where the assisted living and memory care community will very closely resemble the historic Nellie Black building razed to make room for it. Likewise, Balfour at Riverfront Park, a Balfour Senior Living continuing care retirement community (CCRC), includes a retrofitting of the Moffat Depot, Denver’s second train station and a city landmark.
Incorporating gardens and outdoor spaces is another essential trend for urban senior living, but this proves a challenge with limited land and the need to maximize the efficiency of a site.
But developers and operators have made do in clever ways. Lenbrook, a CCRC in metro Atlanta, designed a garden on top of the facility’s parking deck. Meanwhile, Maplewood Senior Living’s upcoming development in Manhattan will incorporate wood, light and other natural elements throughout its design, in an effort to harmonious with nature in an urban environment, says CEO Greg Smith.
In any case, developing and designing communities within urban centers is certainly appealing from a business perspective, ash as the baby boom population continues to age and consumer preferences shift, it’s likely to become hotter than ever. As the industry continues to navigate the urban challenge and opportunity, the sector is well positioned to adhere to seniors’ unique desires and distinct lifestyle preferences.
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