Benchmark has for years made a name for itself as a regional operator in the Northeast. Now, the operator is expanding significantly farther south for the first time in its 25-year history.
The Waltham, Massachusetts-based senior living operator announced this week that it is working on a senior living community in Alexandria, Virginia, which is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
As planned, the 10-story community will have 89 assisted living and 26 memory care apartments as part of a forthcoming mixed-use development, with amenities such as a club room, bistro, suite for wine-tasting, penthouse level cafe and rooftop deck. Residents will also have access to a wellness center where staff will help arrange and facilitate health care services, such as physician visits.
While the expansion to D.C. marks the company’s first move beyond its Northeastern roots, Benchmark CEO Tom Grape told Senior Housing News he has “always envisioned Benchmark as serving the Boston to Washington corridor.”
“We’ve been approached so many times about going to the southeast, northwest, West Coast – even China and Australia,” Grape said. “We’ve turned those down, but we’ve always wanted to do something in the mid-Atlantic region — this opportunity was the right one for us.”
Today, the company has 64 communities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont; with the project in Alexandria representing number 65.
In looking to the future, Grape believes that the wider industry will have to offer something different to the incoming generation of baby boomers. Earlier this year, he told Senior Housing News that “the senior living they’ll want to live in is not the senior living we offered 10 years ago.”
With an urban site and a location inside of a mixed-use development, the D.C. community is an effort to offer something different than the norm.
“The Alexandria project also reflects our desire to meet the changing needs and expectations of residents,” Grape said. “It’s just one example of how assisted living communities are evolving to meet changing wishes and desires of seniors.”
Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area is a popular market for new development in 2022. Forthcoming projects include a $500 million life plan community from Mather in nearby Tysons, Virginia; a new Inspir project from Maplewood; and Watermark’s Elite Collection pipeline with developer Silverstone.
Other companies with their eye on the District include Northbridge Companies, which is bringing a middle-income model to market in the city; and Galerie Living, which is growing its Corso brand there.
And looking ahead, Grape sees more potential for expansion in the region. In particular, the company is looking at other markets and opportunities in New Jersey, Maryland and other states between its current Northeast presence and its new community in Northern Virginia.
“We will, of course, continue to grow and serve the communities in the seven states where we are located currently,” Grape added.