Tribune: Chicago Forges Ahead with Senior Care Construction Projects

Despite the slowness in the real estate market, there is some local activity in seniors housing construction, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Two projects, one on Chicago’s north side, and another in a northern suburb, represent a couple different stages on the development spectrum. Exterior construction for The Admiral, a $200 million, 31-story North Side retirement high-rise, was recently completed; the building replaces a retirement facility that was torn down in 2007, says the article.

The new building should be finished in April, with interior work currently underway. Upon completion, it will have 200 apartments, including assisted living units and nursing care suites.

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Construction on the other project, located in Northbrook, Ill., is expected to begin in the next several months. The building will have 57 independent living units as well as on-site amenities and activities.

“The Chicago region traditionally has been one of the country’s most active markets for retirement projects,” says the Chicago Tribune article, going on to cite data from the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing and Care Industry of 1,500 units of senior housing under construction, the most of the top 31 metropolitan areas in the nation.

However, new senior housing projects face headwinds, with expensive communities requiring large upfront entry fees and a slow housing market that can delay people from being able to sell their homes and move into retirement communities, reports the Tribune.

Despite other senior communities running into financial difficulties, including The Clare at Water Tower in Chicago’s Gold Coast filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and The Clare Oaks continuing care retirement community in Bartlett, Ill., filing for bankruptcy protection, the Admiral is “bucking the trend and moving forward.”

The project has gotten a boost thanks to expertise from the Kendal Corp., an experienced retirement community operator that was brought in to provide technical advice and operating systems, the Admiral’s president and CEO told the Chicago Tribune.

“Kendal has a track record of operating these communities successfully,” he said in the article. “Their involvement gave everyone confidence.”

So far, about 80% of the building’s one-, two-, and three-bedroom units have been reserved; entry fees range from $300,000 to $900,000, with additional monthly fees depending on unit size and contract.

The retirement community in Northbrook also charges entry fees, but will not offer on-site assisted or nursing care. For The Lodge of Northbrook, entry fees will range from about $85,000 to $528,000, the article reports. For both projects, entry fees are refundable once units are resold or transferred to a new owner.

Developed by Essex Corp., a senior housing company based in Omaha, Neb., The Lodge is expected to be ready by the spring of 2013.

Read the full Chicago Tribune article here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace