Memory Care Pioneer Beatitudes Launches $260 Million Redevelopment

Beatitudes Campus, well known for its Comfort Matters memory care approach, has embarked on a $260 million, eight-year repositioning to transform and expand its presence in Phoenix.

“We created a plan that will touch virtually all of our 27-acre campus,” Beatitudes President and CEO Michelle Just told Senior Housing News.

Beatitudes first opened in 1965, and the campus in north central Phoenix has grown substantially since that time. In 2008, the organization transitioned from a rental assisted living and skilled nursing model to a type-B and type-C entrance-fee life plan community. The nonprofit was also planning an ambitious redevelopment effort when the financial crisis hit and plans were put on hold.

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“I came in in 2014 and dusted off the plans to see if they still made sense,” Just told SHN.

The plans were revised to account for changing consumer preferences and other factors, and the first phase broke ground last month. It involves the construction of 34 new patio homes, to meet high demand for independent living.

“We had purchased residential homes on the outer edge of the campus, [and] what we’ve experienced is they stay 100% full,” Just said.

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The patio homes are single-level and were designed with a mid-century modern look by architect Orcutt Winslow, with the aim of complementing the existing campus buildings that date from that time period. The Weitz Company is general contractor.

The patio homes are slated to be completed in January 2020, and three further project phases are planned. Those next phases will involve a mixture of new construction and renovations of existing buildings, including turning the current assisted living building into health care and memory support in a “neighborhood” concept.

“We’ve always operated our dementia product in a 1965 nursing home,” Just noted. Despite being located in an aging physical plant, Beatitudes’ Comfort Matters memory care program has garnered national attention, including in a 2010 New York Times article.

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The Beatitudes approach places a premium on residents’ quality of life and strives to operationalize the latest dementia-related research. The new memory care setting will allow for “significant increases in programs and services,” but it’s difficult to be specific about them because research is ongoing and the new building is not scheduled to open until November 2025, Just said.

Once the redevelopment is completed, Beatitudes’ total resident capacity will be about 1,000 — that’s an increase of about 250 people compared with current capacity.

Financing is being done through tax-exempt bonds, with specialty investment bank Ziegler as the lead and HJSims and BB&T in a co-management structure.

Beatitudes’ influence has been felt nationwide through Comfort Matters, with organizations such as Denver-based Christian Living Communities and New York-based The New Jewish Home being accredited in this approach to memory care. However, Beatitudes is not looking to have a physical presence beyond of its Phoenix campus.

“We’ve very dedicated, and staying to this single site in this area was very important to our leadership team and board of directors,” Just said. “It’s about repositioning to serve seniors for the next 15 to 20 years.”

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