Demand for urban senior living is increasing across the country, and the nation’s largest city is a hotbed.
Given New York City’s particular market dynamics, flashy new projects are coming out of the ground, an existing community on the Upper West Side is thriving, and a real estate investment trust recently paid a historically high price for a Battery Park location.
The number of people ages 65 and over living in New York state has increased by 26% over the past decade, according to a new report from the Center for an Urban Future. The New York City borough of Brooklyn itself has more older adults — 357,855 — than any other county in the state, the report notes. And nearby Manhattan saw the most sizable increase of older adults of any county in the state, with the number of older adults increasing by 66,994 between 2007 and 2017.
The number of new senior housing projects in the Big Apple has also grown in the past few years, with much of it high-end or luxury communities for a more affluent clientele. Recent examples include Welltower’s (NYSE: WELL) forthcoming 17-story community, Maplewood’s Inspir Carnegie Hill project and a planned 44-story tower from former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and New York City-based Related Companies that could include 126 long-term care facility dwelling units.
Meanwhile, the city is simultaneously grappling with a lack of affordable senior housing for its booming older adult population. And while Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged $500 million for affordable senior housing last year, critics say he has since reneged on his promise.
It’s not surprising, considering these factors, that the few existing senior living communities in the city are well positioned. Chicago-based Ventas (NYSE: VTR) paid $194 million to acquire Brookdale Battery Park last year, which business intelligence and publishing firm Irving Levin Associates believes is an industry record for a single-site acquisition.
And Louisville-based Atria Senior Living — a company that is pursuing a $3 billion, nationwide urban development pipeline with Related — has long operated a building on the Upper West Side that is seeing high occupancy and increasing demand.
Interest in Inspir Carnegie Hill has grown since Maplewood opened the community’s Manhattan leasing office last December, according to Brian Geyser, chief clinical officer for the Inspir brand and Maplewood’s vice president of clinical innovation and population health.
“We have had an incredible interest in what we’re doing here,” Geyser told Senior Housing News. “We have been thrilled by the number of people who have signed deposits or have expressed considerable interest in doing so.”
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Atria Senior Living’s West 86 community on the Upper West Side of Manhattan has seen its own demand tick up in recent years, according to Paul Cravinho, who worked as the community’s sales director until May.
“I’ve been here seven years and I haven’t seen anything but the demand going up,” Cravinho told SHN, during a recent interview at the community. “There are more people, and this industry is underserved, specifically in Manhattan.”
Atria West 86 has 187 apartments licensed for “enriched housing,” a kind of long-term care certificate in New York that’s similar to assisted living. The community is housed inside of a pre-war building, and what it lacks in ultramodern designs, it makes up in historic charm, with art deco finishes and high ceilings with exposed beams.
That’s not to say West 86 doesn’t have its fair share of upscale amenities, either. The community has a rooftop terrace with views of the New York City skyline, three dining venues, a penthouse fitness center and a performance space that regularly hosts artists from the renowned Juliard School.
Today, the community has an occupancy rate of about 95%, with a vibrant resident population that roams the community’s halls and socializes in its common areas throughout the day. Monthly rates start at roughly $7,800 for a studio residence, $11,000 for a one-bedroom and $14,000 for a two-bedroom apartment.
These rates highlight another attractive aspect of New York City for senior living development. Although there is a growing need for more affordable senior housing, there is also a concentration of wealth in the city and its surrounding areas. Some monthly rates at the forthcoming Welltower project on 56th Street and Lexington Avenue will exceed $20,000 a month, Welltower CEO Tom DeRosa noted this week.
Despite the accelerating growth of new senior living developments occurring across New York City, Cravinho thinks there will be enough demand to go around, at least for now.
“The new builds are happening, the renovations are happening. I think it’s going to lend itself to more of an awareness [for senior living],” Cravinho said. “That overall brand awareness for the whole industry is going to be important.”