An Indiana continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is embracing the future of senior housing through a series of expansion projects that will breed maintenance-free apartment living with the style and feel of a single-family home, and is also attracting younger residents in the process.
Westminster Village’s new “hybrid homes” not only offer a more affordable and unique housing option at the community’s campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, but they’re born out of the preferences of younger seniors, says Executive Director Vicki Gregory. And its pre-sales are booming.
“We’re finding our residents have greater needs than they have had historically, so we wanted to add facilities that would be able to address those needs,” Gregory said.
The 42-acre CCRC, which is home to 350 residents, plans to break ground this fall on the first phase of the $36 million The Terraces of Westminster Village expansion, the core of which calls for constructing a new three-building residential area to house the hybrid homes.
In total, 54 of the new living options will be developed, with 18 in each building. Hybrid home units will range in size from 1,655- to 2,095-square-feet and will include features such as nine-foot ceilings, a large balcony or patio, a four-season room and a gas-log fireplace. Other perks include high-end countertops and flooring, washer and dryer and multi-purpose kitchen island.
Additionally, each building will feature an enclosed parking garage with electric vehicle charging stations, storage for residents, as well as a multi-functional terrace at the top for outdoor enjoyment.
The worry-free lifestyle aspects arrive in the form of leaving the property’s grounds care, monthly housekeeping service, and interior and exterior maintenance to Westminster Village staff.
Single-family type homes are not uncommon at the CCRC. The community already has several independent living cottages on its campus, but it could be a couple of years for some residents who are currently on the waiting list for these housing options, Gregory said.
Westminster Village believes the hybrid homes will help alleviate some of the demand for the community’s independent living housing.
After holding a series of focus groups with current residents, as well as targeted advertising for qualified age and income individuals living in the surrounding area, Westminster Village was able to gauge the preferences of seniors inside and outside its community’s walls. These focus groups ultimately birthed the hybrid homes concept.
“We wanted to add something that would appeal to residents that were independent and wanted to live in something that felt like a house,” Gregory said. “We were also seeing younger generations considering moving into the community that wanted the ability to have more choices, but they weren’t interested in traditional independent living.”
The community was also garnering responses from younger seniors considering moving into Westminster Village that wanted flexibility of choice, but weren’t interested in traditional independent living. Rather, they preferred to pay for community services and amenities on an a la carte basis.
Separate from the bundled package of services residents would pay if they lived in the more traditional senior living options at Westminster Village, the monthly fee of living in the hybrid homes is roughly a third of the price of the community’s other housing, Gregory tells SHN.
“Residents are able to pick and choose which amenities they’d like to receive, but [hybrids] are significantly less than the apartments because they’re not bundled with all of the services on campus included,” she said.
Some of the services residents may choose to purchase include a dining plan, additional housekeeping services, home security system, laundry services, among other amenities. The design process for the hybrids was also fully-customizable, with residents able to choose features like cabinetry, countertops and carpeting.
The first hybrid home is already 100% pre-sold, while the second, which will break ground in spring 2015, has already sold 17 of its 18 units. The third, which won’t break ground until fall 2015, has not yet started pre-sales.
“We’re learning from the groups moving into the first building so we can make modifications before we begin pre-selling the third building,” Gregory said.
Those residents moving in, Westminster has found, are also averaging a younger entry age than the community has historically had in its 36 years of operations. On average, the community has inadvertently lowered the move-in age of its residents by about 5 years, from what used to range in the late 80s to what is now closer to the early 80s, Gregory said.
“We’re hitting the mark with the focus groups in listening to what younger folks want and building it to their tastes.”
Written by Jason Oliva