TPP Capital Management is undertaking an ambitious project to transform a Philadelphia neighborhood, with senior housing and services among the key building blocks of a health- and wellness-focused master plan.
For years, TPP — a Black-owned social impact private equity fund and health care real estate development firm — has been assembling parcels of land across five blocks in the Nicetown-Tioga area of Philadelphia, located immediately to the west of Temple University Hospital. All the land that TPP acquired in Tioga falls within designated opportunity zones, and the firm has secured $30 million in a qualified opportunity fund, while continuing to fundraise.
With this initial capital in hand, TPP is about to break ground in Tioga, taking the first steps toward achieving a vision that could include a “senior citizen village,” TPP Co-founder and Principal Clinton Bush told Senior Housing News. Bush leads TPP along with Fund Manager Anthony Miles.
This quarter, TPP plans to break ground on eight building that will total 32 workforce condos, as well as a two-building, 84-unit senior housing project.
One senior housing building will include 34 units and the other will encompass 50 units. Units will be fully furnished, and the building will be age-restricted to 55+, with several features focused on wellness:
— A wellness center on the lower level of the larger building
— An in-residence chef who will be able to live in the building free of charge, in exchange for teaching residents how to prepare healthy meals
— A medical graduate in residence who will help residents follow wellness routines
In addition, TPP has forged a partnership with Delos, the organization behind the WELL Building Standard, and the creator of advanced air purification technology. With the support of consultancy Forefront, Delos will work with TPP on wellness solutions for the Tioga District.
Delos’ DARWIN system of calibrating indoor environments for wellness through air and water purification, circadian lighting and other features, will be integrated into the senior housing buildings and other Tioga District projects.
Rent for the senior housing building will start around $1,300 per month, with 25% of units being affordable housing. The Tioga District project overall is considered an affordable housing project based upon Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines that use a monthly payment scale to determine affordable housing status, Bush said.
A bigger vision
Wellness and affordability are not only aspects of the senior housing buildings, but are guiding principles for TPP’s larger reinvention of Tioga, which for years suffered under the practice of redlining.
Under this practice, now banned, real estate financing was all but impossible to obtain for certain neighborhoods across the United States with majority Black residents, leading to chronic lack of development and resulting blight. Residents of these areas have suffered from poor health outcomes related to various issues tied to underdevelopment, including the lack of readily available nutritious food.
Tioga is a case in point; for example, 45% of residents in the area have high blood pressure, Bush told SHN.
TPP plans to address these issues as the Tioga District continues to take shape through subsequent phases. The “heartbeat” of the District will be two buildings — a tower and annex — dedicated to preventive health, Bush explained.
Construction on the annex is slated to begin later in 2021. The building will feature an indoor, vertical farm run by a company called Vertical Harvest. The farm will grow produce such as greens, microgreens, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs, which will be available through a farmers’ market to all the Tioga residents — including older adults.
Next to the annex, the planned tower has been dubbed the Tioga District Preventative Health Tower, Bush said. The farmers’ market will occupy the ground floor, and the building also would include a commercial kitchen and a community kitchen, with programs for chefs to train health care workers and Tioga residents on how to prepare healthy meals. The tower’s top floor would feature a “culinary theater” that could host various events.
The tower also would include a primary care clinic and lab service, and would be home to other organizations, several of which have already expressed interest, Bush said.
The idea is to leverage the close proximity of Temple Health, making that institution more synergistic with the nearby neighborhood. And TPP is still acquiring land and envisions adding more senior housing and services in the future. Bush and his colleagues are open to considering assisted living or higher levels of care.
“The ultimate goal is doing a senior citizen village,” he said.
While TPP’s project stands out for its scope, it does reflect broader trends and emerging opportunities in real estate development, and senior housing development specifically. Urban, mixed-use developments and a focus on wellness-driven lifestyles have been rising trends for several years. And although senior housing development in opportunity zones has been limited, there is the potential for growth, given that the industry increasingly is seeking to serve lower price points.
Of course, more capital will be needed for TPP to achieve its goals. The firm has a $100 million target for one fund and a $300 million target for a second fund. In addition to the $30 million raised thus far, TPP secured a $10 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Bush is passionate in making his pitch for the project, which he argues will not only lead to sound financial returns but outsized social impact.
“For every $1 in, it’s $3 out in social impact,” he said, citing internal data.
The social benefits of the project not only would include creating a healthier environment that improves quality of life within Tioga, but improved housing that is meant to be financially accessible for current residents of the neighborhood.
One concern surrounding projects like these is that they will lead to gentrification that prices out and displaces people, as Bisnow recently pointed out in its coverage of the Tioga project. But Bush is adamant that this will not occur, as TPP is developing vacant lots rather than tearing down existing housing, and is engaged with the community to learn about and meet residents’ needs.
Plus, the project is personal for Bush and Miles, who are Philadelphians hailing from the Francisville neighborhood that is just about 5 miles from Nicetown-Tioga. They have invested their own money to make land acquisitions and seed the real estate fund.
“What we’re doing is building the community with what we have,” Bush said.