$300M Mixed-Use Project in Miami Includes Assisted Living, Focuses on Wellness

Urban markets, mixed-use developments and wellness-focused programming are all hot trends in senior living. One project in the Miami area blends all three and is nearing completion.

Aventura ParkSquare (rendering above) is a $300 million, 7.4-acre project that will include a 141-unit assisted living and memory care community to be operated by Royal Senior Care, which also plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to office space in the development. There are four additional buildings planned for ParkSquare: an office and condo tower, an Aloft hotel, a medical center and a parking garage. Retail and other tenants will occupy space in some of these buildings as well, including Starbucks, Delicious Raw Kitchen and Juice Bar, and fitness studio Barry’s Bootcamp. Aventura Hospital and Medical Center is nearby. The development is about a 30-minute drive from both downtown Miami and downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Some components, including the hotel and medical center, are now open. The senior living community, dubbed The Plaza at ParkSquare, is targeting a Q4 2018 opening but is accepting deposits, a Royal Senior Care spokesman told Senior Housing News. Rents are anticipated to be in the range of $5,000 to $6,000 a month.

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Aventura-based Royal Senior Care has long been interested in this plot of land, considering it is prime real estate located in the company’s backyard, the spokesperson said. In fact, Royal Senior Care initially bid on the whole parcel, with the idea of creating a senior living campus. Ultimately, Miami-based Integra Investments became the master developer for the mixed-use project; Royal Senior Care knew the Integra team and worked with them to bring in the assisted living component.

The master developer gave Royal Senior Care full design rights, and it took about 18 months to create a design that satisfied all stakeholders, said the company’s spokesman.

One notable design element: The Plaza will be the only building in ParkSquare that does not feature some sort of ground-level retail. This is because Royal Senior Care believes that not all older adults would respond well if they were asked to take an elevator just to reach their lobby, and then go to separate floors for amenities and activities. Residents may become more comfortable with ground-level retail over the time, as urban senior living becomes more mainstream, but the industry is now in a “transition period” between more suburban layouts and more urban ones, Royal Senior Care believes.

Royal Senior Care declined to share the overall project budget with SHN, but noted that it is higher than average for the senior living industry due to the vertical construction and other particulars of building in this location. The company obtained a $29.6 million construction loan from Branch Banking & Trust Co. for the project, and the 19,168-square-foot site was purchased in 2016 for $7 million, according to the South Florida Business Journal.

Designed for wellness

Although the building is licensed as assisted living and will have between 20 and 30 memory care units, Royal Senior Care believes that The Plaza is likely to attract a lower-acuity resident, who is eager to take advantage of the walkable and amenity-rich development. The top two floors of The Plaza are planned as “concierge living,” which is an AL-light type of offering. Programming is also being tailored with this type of resident in mind.

“We’re putting together a program we don’t have in any of our other sites, because of the size and shape of this building—its vertical nature—and the opportunity to utilize the mixed-use site,” the company spokesman told SHN. “There is a yoga studio and some other places that may cater [to residents] … we could have certain classes, for example. A lot of good and new ideas are going to be coming out of this place.”

Indeed, ParkSquare has been intentionally designed to promote wellness. Not only will its tenants include the medical center as well as healthy eating options and fitness centers, but it has been designed to encourage people to walk—for instance, as Curbed Miami reported, by having a shaded “main street,” extra-wide landscaped sidewalks, and a number of open staircases to reduce elevator use.

This focus on wellness dovetails with a movement in senior living to enhance residents’ overall wellbeing, which not only brings health benefits for these individuals but helps with business imperatives such as length of stay and health system partnerships.

Embedding senior living properties in mixed-use developments is catching on for several reasons, including an increasing desire among older adults to remain connected to a larger, inter-generational community. Another example of a wellness-oriented, mixed-use development with a senior living component can be found in California, where provider Generations LLC is working with health care real estate developer Pacific Medical Buildings on the Peninsula Wellness Center project.

Opportunistic expansion

In 2012, Royal sold a large proportion of its portfolio to real estate investment trust Welltower (NYSE: WELL), then known as Health Care REIT. Since that time, the company has been re-growing in an opportunistic way, the company spokesman said. This will be the tenth property in Royal Senior Care’s portfolio, which spans Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Three of these communities were ground-up developments and seven were acquisitions.

This approach to expansion is likely to continue, with the focus remaining on markets in the Southeast and Florida in particular. There is currently one other development in the stage of negotiations over land and zoning, according to the company.

Written by Tim Mullaney

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