One non-profit continuing care retirement community (CCRC) operator has quickly sold all of its newly constructed luxury duplexes, attracting a highly sought after population of younger seniors in the process. The provider, Indianapolis-based BHI Senior Living, believes this shows that seniors do not necessarily want to downsize as they age, and the senior living industry could benefit by building bigger.
BHI recently sold the last of 30 newly constructed luxury duplexes at its 395-unit Hoosier Village community in Indianapolis. BHI has three other CCRCs in Indiana: The Towne House in Fort Wayne, Four Seasons in Columbus and Wesley Manor in Frankfort. The company also owns a 15-hole golf course located a short drive away from Hoosier Village.
Each duplex at Hoosier Village has many of the same design features you’d see in a standalone single-family dwelling, such grassy yards, mature trees, front porches, oversized two-car garages, open floor plans and upscale kitchens.
The homes represent a significant investment of roughly $14.5 million, with an additional $2 million going toward infrastructure such as roads and drainage. But that investment has paid off thus far, according to BHI’s president and CEO, John Dattilo.
“We had a tremendous response from the market,” Dattilo told Senior Housing News. “All of the units had deposits on them before we even started to build, and that was just a matter of a couple months.”
Not afraid of the basement
Part of the appeal of the big homes is that they offer everything one might have had in their pre-retirement dwelling, but with the added security and comfort of being part of a CCRC.
“When people came to one of our communities, they weren’t always looking to downsize or live a different lifestyle than they currently had,” Dattilo said. “They don’t want to leave their nice cabinets and countertops and stainless steel range hoods and crown molding.”
Some of the duplexes even come with finished basements—a feature some other CCRCs have shied away from, Dattilo said.
“People that are coming to us are coming from these homes with large, finished basements,” he added. “Traditionally, other levels in retirement community homes were kind of prohibitive, but we just decided we were going to duplicate what [retirees] already have at home.”
That focus on design and detail might be why the duplex’s residents are affluent and generally younger than their counterparts in the CCRC’s independent living wing.
“We see a lot of applications come in from people with significant personal assets,” Dattilo said. “And if we can bring in a resident that is 72 versus 82 years old, that’s a big benefit to our community.”
Entry fees for residents range from $550,000 to $650,000. They also must pay a monthly service charge, depending on where they fall on the care continuum.
“I absolutely believe there is an untapped segment of the market,” Dattilo said. “For a long time, we had this predetermined notion of what retirement living is supposed to look like and feel like, but it’s exactly what we already have in our own homes.”
BHI, which Dattilo described as a “very entrepreneurial” nonprofit, increasingly sees its future in bigger homes for more independent residents. Future plans also include a second dog park, garden areas, pavilions and nature trails.
“I think you will see BHI gravitate in that direction,” Dattilo said. “We’re going to be looking at units with larger spaces, and we’re not going to be afraid to look at upstairs rooms, additions, or…things like basements.”
Written by Tim Regan