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A Broad View of University-Based Retirement Communities

Keys to success and how COVID-19 could increase opportunities

It’s encouraging to see a growing number of colleges building senior living communities on or near their campuses. Broadview—Senior Living at Purchase College, outside New York City, is such a project, and the LCS Development team is proud to bring it to reality. The recipe for success involves many ingredients and expertise from a development company to integrate the two entities. The final product is much more than a college or university just lending its name to a building that sits on the campus.

Establishing a College Partnership

“There is a tremendous upside to college partnerships in terms of lifelong learning that benefits students and older adults,” says Todd Shaw, director of development services at LCS Development. In most cases, including Purchase College, it takes a college administrator who understands the benefits and actively seeks a development partner. Recognizing this opportunity, the LCS Development team has built a strategy to talk with colleges about potential partnership opportunities.

While the tried-and-true market factors are essential for a successful development (such as a high age- and income-qualified population, funds available for pre-development costs, etc.), the site and zoning criteria can differ between public and private colleges.

  • In general, public colleges are on state-owned land and must obtain permission or have actual legislation passed to use the land for a purpose other than student education.
  • Private colleges have more flexibility, but typically have less land.

Securing the land for Broadview, which is part of the State University of New York, took longer than five years. The process required legislation, numerous approvals, and the determination to navigate the stringent requirements in the state.

A project of this scope requires a development team that understands the steps and timelines, is knowledgeable of all the necessary requirements, and does everything possible to meet these obligations.

“Another key is continually defining and communicating the advantages the project will offer to the college, senior living residents, and community at large,” Shaw says. “LCS Development has a unique advantage in that area because of the breadth and depth of management expertise of Life Care Services and the LCS Family of Companies. There is always an expert available to provide guidance or assistance when needed.”

Design and Programming for Success

“At Broadview, the main objective has been to bring the senior living community into the college and the college into the community,” Shaw notes. “It’s important to establish a significant level of involvement from faculty and students.”

Establishing planned programs and lifelong learning opportunities that provide regular interaction between students and residents is key.

In addition to lifestyle, wellness and dining amenities at Broadview, a featured design element is the learning commons. The 10,000- square-foot space is dedicated for intergenerational learning. It features classrooms, a multimedia lab, studios, and space to showcase artwork and performing arts, as well as a pub and café. Purchase College students will have just as much access to the building as Broadview residents. In return, residents at Broadview will have access to classes, faculty lectures and performances at the college, as well as opportunities to become mentors to students.

Pandemic Could Propel College Partnerships

“Going forward, we expect university-based retirement communities to grow, and the pandemic could actually spur further partnerships,” says Shaw. “If campuses see a decrease in the enrollment of international students or ongoing revenue reductions because of coronavirus issues, they may look at ways to increase funding.”

Developing a senior living community is a potential revenue-generating source. At Purchase College, rent proceeds from the Broadview ground lease will be used to fund student scholarships and hire faculty.

College partnerships can be a tremendous win for all parties — the school, the senior living community on campus, and the community at large — if you know the factors for success, and you have the right development partner.

Learn how LCS Development will collaborate with your team and guide you through the decision-making process from concept to completion, ensuring your community is customized to align with your vision and goals.

Contact us at LCS Development where Experience Is Everything.

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