Senior Housing Developers Make Strides in Underserved NYC Market

An international real estate firm and its real estate investment trust (REIT) partner have unveiled their design plans for a New York City senior housing project, drawing attention to the growing need for assisted living and memory care communities in the country’s largest city.

Real estate firm Hines and Welltower Inc. (NYSE: HCN), one of the “Big Three” health care REITs, today announced details of their midtown Manhattan senior living community, a 125,000-square-foot, 15-story project designed to address the need for more assisted living and memory care services in the private-pay market. SLCE Architects, LLP, has been selected as the designer o the property, which will feature retail at its base and a senior living community above.

The partners purchased the development lots in midtown Manhattan for $115 million in late April.

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This is the first senior housing project for Hines, which is privately owned and has a presence in 182 cities in 20 countries. The global firm has $89.1 billion of assets under management, as well as 109 current developments underway around the world. Hines cited the the growing demographic of seniors in New York City as part of the attraction to the space.

“For Hines, what we liked about this as an economic matter [is] it’s on a demographic curve and not an economic cycle,” Tommy Craig, senior managing director at Hines, told The Wall Street Journal, in an article that ran Sunday on the city’s sparse senior housing options.

The development will add to only about another dozen licensed assisted living residences in New York City, according to the WSJ. As other areas across the country are seemingly marred with oversupply, the steep barriers to entry in the New York City market may have had some influence on a lack of options and developments—and now senior living companies are seeing an opportunity.

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There are some other senior developments currently underway in the city, including one on the Upper East Side of Manhattan being developed by Maplewood Senior Living and Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE: OHI). The partners see New York City as a big opportunity for senior housing despite high development costs and limited land.

Even with relatively few senior living communities in New York City, marketing the new community to the service-oriented city poses a challenge.

“The challenge is operating something in New York that is compelling for people to move into when you can stay in your co-op and have full service in terms of maintenance and doorman and porters and everything delivered to your door,” John Moore, chief executive of Atria Senior Living, Inc., told the WSJ. Atria, a national senior housing operator, manages four communities in New York City**, the WSJ reported.

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The community targets private-pay seniors and will hold residential units from the 3rd floor to the 14th floor.

“This building is organized vertically unlike most typical senior living communities,” Saky Yakas, partner at SLCE Architects, LLP, said in a statement. “Inspired by classic Park Avenue apartment houses, its design and layout reflects New York City apartment living.”

Primary community spaces are located on the 2nd floor and will feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows, according to Hines. Other community spaces will be interspersed throughout the residential floors to create “mini neighborhoods” on each floor. Outdoor living spaces, including landscaped terraces and gardens, will be on the 4th, 11th and 15th floors.

While the Welltower and the Maplewood/Omega development currently are among the few high-rise senior housing developments in New York City, developers and architects may increasingly think about vertical structures to meet the needs of urban seniors, with their eyes on skyscrapers as an innovative senior housing model.

Written by Amy Baxter

**Editor’s note: This article has been updated from a previous version that noted Atria Senior Living manages four communities in New York. Atria operates four communities in New York City.

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