5 Senior Living Development Projects to Watch in 2021 and Beyond

The pandemic has made it perhaps harder than ever before to predict the trajectory of the senior housing industry. But five new projects across the country might give an indication of where the industry is headed in the coming months and years.

From the rise of active adult communities to new middle-market models to interesting cases of adaptive reuse, these projects reflect some of the big trends shaping the market and showcase promising innovations that could help meet the next generation of consumers.

Seasons Living’s ‘Collective Living’ Concept

As construction and labor costs have risen across the U.S., so too has the challenge of developing and building a middle-market senior living community. But a new concept from Seasons Living aims to tweak the senior living model to bring costs down for middle-market residents, and could help inform similar efforts in the industry in the future.


The concept is in the early stages but leaders with Seasons recently shared some insight into their plans with Senior Housing News. Dubbed “Collective Living,” the model places unrelated residents in suites with private bedrooms but shared common kitchen and living areas. Initially the units will be offered in two-, four- and six-bedroom styles. Independent living rates start in the low $2,000 range, a rent that Seasons believes is both affordable from a consumer standpoint but also more attractive to investors on a square foot basis when compared to a typical one- or two-bedroom unit.

Seasons is set to pilot the concept in a new independent living, assisted living and memory care community with 146 units set to start coming together in Maricopa, Arizona, by the end of the year. At first, the concept will be offered in a small group of units, and each unit will be built to convert into a more traditional two-bedroom apartment if demand is lackluster.

“By limiting downside risk to a few easily convertible units in this pilot project while demonstrating financial upside based on design methods from other property types, Collective Living will prove to be attractive to institutional senior living capital,” Seasons Living President and COO Dan Williams told Senior Housing News.


Erickson Senior Living’s Marriott HQ Redevelopment

CCRCs are in an interesting spot as the senior living industry works to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Many withstood occupancy pressures slightly better than traditional senior living communities, and this has presumably given some of them more breathing room — and cash — with which to expand and experiment in the months and years ahead.

For a glimpse into the future of CCRCs, one needs look no further than the plans of Erickson Senior Living. The Catonsville, Maryland-based company committed about $3 billion in self-funding to build 5,000 new units across its portfolio through new development and community expansions.

In particular, the company’s redevelopment of Marriott International’s former global headquarters stands out for its scale and its approach to adaptive reuse. While this project had its genesis prior to Covid-19, there now may be even more opportunities for providers to acquire and redevelop corporate office spaces as companies have expanded work-from-home policies.

Erickson purchased the more than 33-acre site in 2019 for a price of about $104.6 million, according to local news outlet Bethesda Beat. The company is planning a campus that will include more than 1,500 units spread across eight buildings ranging from six to 13 stories tall, according to planning information Erickson shared with SHN.

Up to 1,300 of the building’s more than 1,500 units are planned to be independent living, with as many as 210 set aside for assisted living and another 50 for nursing care. The unit mix is similar to that planned at Avery Point, a $300 million Erickson CCRC coming together in the Richmond, Virginia suburb of Short Pump.

Other senior living companies also have a desire to grow their CCRC operations — and if Erickson’s recent projects are any indication, the post-Covid landscape is seemingly one that is ripe for the product type’s expansion.

Marriott redevelopment rendering courtesy Erickson Senior Living

Vitality Living’s Active Adult Continuum Project

In late 2020, Vitality Living entered the active adult market. At the time, CEO Chris Guay said he expects the next decade will be defined by “significant change.”

Some of that change might come from Vitality itself. The company’s first active adult project, an 86-home property called Vitality Living Madison, opened in Madison, Georgia last year. But if things go according to plan, the community won’t stay solely active adult for long.

Vitality is currently planning to add 54 assisted living and 16 memory care units to the site to create a small on-campus continuum. What is notable about the project is that active adult is supplanting independent living as the community’s first rung on the care ladder.

That follows a commonly held notion in the senior living industry that today’s active adult communities look much more like the independent living communities of yesterday. And if resident acuity creep continues independent living while active adult models mature, this might be a continuum model seen at more senior living communities down the road.

Vitality Living Madison, photo courtesy Vitality Living

2Life Communities’ New Opus Brand

There are a variety of ways senior living operators are targeting the middle market, and a number of ideas for making the math work. One unique example lies in 2Life Communities’ Opus concept, which is coming together first in the form of a 174-unit senior housing complex in Newton, Massachusetts. Although plans for the community are still in their early stages, leaders with 2Life shared some information on the concept with SHN.

The Opus concept is designed for middle-market residents, but carries a few differences from a typical middle-market community. In addition to their monthly rates, residents pay a one-time “community share” that is partially refundable when they move out. Health care costs would be shouldered by residents on an on-needed basis, and 2Life believes it can use its scale to lower pricing for those services through partnerships. Residents can also “borrow” from their future refund if they run out of funds for care.

Opus communities are planned to have units that are smaller than those found at more traditional senior living communities, with flexible community spaces instead of the typical slate of luxury-focused amenities such as a pool or spa. Care services are designed to take place in residents’ apartments as needed; and where traditional senior living uses a high-touch staffing model to offer a catered lifestyle, Opus communities are centered around resident-driven programming and volunteering.

Evergreen’s First-Of-Its-Kind Chicago Community

Care is among the hardest aspects of senior living to make affordable. But a newly opened community on Chicago’s North Side might provide a window into how that might be done.

The first residents have already moved into Ravenswood Senior Living, a senior living community from affordable senior housing developer Evergreen Real Estate Group, Synergy Construction Group and the Chicago Housing Authority. Set in a 10-story building in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood are 74 one-bedroom independent living apartments for Chicago Housing Authority residents, as well as another 119 units for residents participating in the Illinois Supportive Living Program, which is an alternative to nursing home care from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

The community is notable as purportedly the first development of its kind in the state of Illinois, and one of the first in the country that has both independent living and supportive living services for low-income older adults under one roof. It’s also set inside of a former hospital, exemplifying another current direction of the adaptive reuse trend.

Evergreen has undertaken a number of other forward-thinking projects, such as Chicago Housing Authority-subsidized senior apartments situated above new Chicago Public Library Branches. The Ravenswood project also came together thanks to a change to legislation allowing for assisted living units in mixed-use developments, a move that Evergreen had a hand in, according to director of development David Block. The company’s project in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood could open the door for other similar projects in Illinois — and, it also shows how difficult it can be to push the envelope on senior living innovation.

Andrew Bruah Photographer

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