One non-profit developer, owner and operator of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) is betting that more seniors will flock to the urban high-rise model of senior living, especially if there’s a university affiliation involved.
Medford, Oregon-based Pacific Retirement Services (PRS) is moving full steam ahead with its plan to open Mirabella-branded senior living high-rises in western U.S. markets. The organization currently has two Mirabella properties open, with the third on the way in the form of Mirabella at ASU, a 20-story community under construction at Arizona State University’s main campus in Tempe, Arizona. PRS also owns eight other CCRCs, manages two other communities for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in California and has a 25-property portfolio of affordable housing communities.
The blend of high-rise senior living and university services uncorked a torrent of demand last year after the ASU project was announced, and other universities have since come calling, according to Brian McLemore, CEO and president of PRS.
“We’re in preliminary discussions with a few additional universities about similar projects,” McLemore told Senior Housing News. “The germination period on those is long because you have a lot of people involved in the process.”
It’s the Mirabella model — which is focused on spacious, resort-style living options for slightly more affluent older adults — that PRS sees as working in a variety of major metro markets, and it’s one the organization has big plans for.
“We think the urban high-rise model has a lot of legs,” McLemore said. “We like that you can do it on a small piece of property, and we know seniors like the walkability of it, being near cultural and sporting events.”
A typical PRS project is built to scale, with between 220 and 300 units — though one CCRC has around 600, the organization’s CEO said. With so many older adults around, socialization is a major draw for residents of these communities, which is why PRS includes in its buildings amenities such as large auditoriums, themed dining venues and inviting common areas. Other upscale amenities include indoor pools and fitness facilities.
“We know there’s a lot of talk about how everybody’s going to stay in their house,” McLemore said. “But our customer wants to go to the club. They’re people that want to be social all their lives.”
While PRS will focus on opening Mirabella properties on the West Coast for now, that could change in the future.
“The Mirabella brand is something we’ll try to roll out in major markets on the West Coast for sure, then move it east,” McLemore said.
PRS isn’t the only senior housing non-profit with interest in urban markets. The Kendal Corporation, a senior housing nonprofit headquartered in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, has had success with The Admiral, a CCRC located on the north side of Chicago. And then there’s The Mather, a forthcoming CCRC near Washington, D.C. from Evanston, Illinois-based not-for-profit provider Mather Lifeways.
There’s plenty of interest for urban senior living on the for-profit side, too. Atria Senior Living last October announced a new joint venture with luxury real estate firm Related Companies to develop, own and operate more than $3 billion worth of senior living communities in major urban markets across the U.S.
And blending urban living with university partnerships combines two hot trends. Other current university-affiliated projects include a collaboration between Purchase College and LCS, and a new CCRC going up at Berry College in Georgia.