Holbrook Trades Traditional Senior Living for Active Adult in $1 Billion Development Push

Regional senior housing player Holbrook is betting that wellness-focused active adult communities, not traditional senior living, will be the key to meeting future demand.

The Atlanta-based owner and operator has outlined a $1 billion development path and is already one third of the way through it. To help fund that new development, Holbrook has sold four owned assisted and independent living communities and 14 assisted living triple-net leases.

Currently, the company has three assisted living communities open in Georgia under the Dogwood Forest banner, plus seven more Holbrook-branded active adults projects under construction or development in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. The company is currently in a transition period, with an ongoing plan to make the Holbrook brand the focal point of its operations, according to chairman Al Holbrook.


“We have recycled all of our cash in pure-play assisted living except for three [Dogwood Forest] properties,” Holbrook told Senior Housing News. “We’re moving everything toward the Holbrook product line.”

While Holbrook is beefing up its presence in the Southeast U.S., it could expand into other markets in states such as Florida, Texas, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona.

New Holbrook properties are typically developed at a cost of about $80 million to $130 million and will have between 200 and 300 units. Planned amenities include swimming pools, valet parking, fitness centers, salons and restaurants that will serve members of the public and residents alike. Rental rates will range roughly between $3,330 and $6,250.


Overall, the push into active living has to do with older adults’ changing preferences. In particular, the looming demographic wave of retiring baby boomers will bring with it more sophisticated tastes in activities, dining and lifestyle choices.

“In five to 10 years, those customers are going to want very high levels of services,” Holbrook said. “We really haven’t diverted from the historical product line and the sector, we’ve just put it on steroids.”

Focus on wellness, socialization

To help attract the senior living residents of the near future, Holbrook will place a heavy emphasis on socialization, wellness and activities. The thinking is that these residents will be ready to start a new chapter in life and want to live somewhere that helps them do it.

To that end, Holbrook communities will come with unique perks for residents, such as matchmaking services and travel agencies. Already, the company is planning a resident excursion to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

But it’s not just fun and games, either. Holbrook is also offering ways residents can find new purpose in life, such as giving them chances to volunteer in an onsite teen pregnancy hotline or impart their wisdom to younger people in a small business incubator.

Wellness plays a big role in Holbrook’s operations, as well. Residents at Holbrook will enjoy filtered water and air, UV lighting and a saltwater pool. The company also hired a doctor specializing in anti-aging and regenerative medicine.

“We would like to become a center of wellbeing and mimic the ‘blue zones,’ … the five places around the world where people live past 100,” Holbrook said.

On the culinary side, the company has linked up with a tech platform called Farm’d to source its food from more than 60 local farms. The company has also hired Tom McEachern — a former contestant on the Food Network’s Chopped cooking show — as its director of culinary services.

Holbrook residents will get a $750 food credit each month to dine in the community’s restaurants. They can also hit the bar to enjoy drinks from a specialized mixologist using healthful ingredients such as ginger or tumeric.

These kind of options will also help attract seniors far sooner than they traditionally move into senior housing, Holbrook believes. The product line has even attracted people as young as 42 years old.

“They are looking for these kinds of options,” he said. “On the bell curve, we have 60-year-olds coming in. We know this is what they want.”

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