Change in consumer expectations supports growth in urban markets
Historically, senior living communities always had been developed in suburban areas since the land was less expensive and more accessible along the outskirts of metropolitan areas. But as consumer expectations change, one of the fastest-growing trends in senior living is the shift from suburban to urban developments. Often referred to as reverse migration, the next generation of seniors, primarily Baby Boomers, are flocking back to cities to take advantage of thriving downtowns and convenient lifestyles.
Developers now are finding creative solutions to offset the rising costs of development in highly populated urban areas. Once reserved for commercial developments, senior living is starting to see the rise of mixed-use developments in communities across the nation. Within mixed-use housing developments, there often is a blend of retail, restaurants, medical, and entertainment venues near or connected to the housing development. The proximity to cultural, recreational, and social opportunities offers a desirable lifestyle that is attractive to potential residents. These buzzing districts also can help attract and retain employees looking to join these cultural epicenters.
Typically, senior living projects are favorably looked at by municipalities for the ability to serve seniors and create local job opportunities to stimulate the local economy. Beyond the business perks, there are many mixed-use development benefits that positively impact the overall senior lifestyle. Convenient access to the amenities that these urban developments offer is a high draw for residents. It brings more vibrancy to seniors’ lives and offers a higher level of socialization and the opportunity to be surrounded by different cultures and a more diverse population. The inter-generational benefits of these communities can be reciprocal. Residents may provide off-hour business at stores and restaurants, in addition to the extra foot traffic from community employees and residents’ families.
The exposure and marketing benefits of mixed-use developments are unmatched with their immense vehicle and foot traffic. For example, within the LCS network, the Sagewood, a resort-style community in Phoenix, Arizona, has at least 50,000 cars passing by each day due to its proximity to shopping, dining, and other cultural amenities along a major local thoroughfare. It also sits adjacent to the renowned Mayo Clinic; the partnership created with one of the nation’s most prestigious medical providers is incredibly unique. It has allowed us to access their medical staff to oversee our skilled nursing unit, which has led to a positive impact on our brand image in the area.
Urbanization is not a trend that appears to be slowing down any time soon. Reverse migration, paired with the fact that many seniors are looking to downsize, has led us to place an increased emphasis on urban products within our rental portfolio, too. We developed a new rental product called The Delaney®. We tested these models in the suburban Texas market, and after seeing success, we have started introducing them to the high-density populations of the Northeast, such as Washington DC, New Jersey, and Boston.
At LCS Development, we have a goal of building an extensive portfolio throughout the northeast corridor, and we feel our experience in creating high-demand, mixed-use developments such as Sagewood, has prepared us to achieve sustainable success within the urban markets for decades to come.
About the author
Ted Macbeth is the senior vice president/director of life plan development for LCS Development, An LCS® Company. Macbeth is responsible for the direction and oversight of the Life Plan, repositioning, and rental business lines, including managing the product strategy, development planning, design, and management process. He provides supervision and management for the development staff and associated project activities.
Macbeth began his career in senior housing development and consulting in 1997. Prior to beginning his career with LCS Development, he worked for a nonprofit senior living provider in Chicago, Illinois.
Macbeth holds a bachelor’s of business degree from the University of Iowa, and a master’s of business administration from De Paul University.