How Sunrise is Executing on Its New Vision Statement in Two Flagship NYC Communities

Sunrise Senior Living CEO Jack Callison announced a new vision statement for the company earlier this week, and it’s already being put into practice by teams on the ground.

Callison’s vision statement: to ‘create a preferred lifestyle for enjoying a longer, healthier, happier life.’ To get there, Sunrise is already making steps to provide residents with more upscale dining services, holistic wellness and health services along with experiential programming..

The new vision is exemplified within the McLean, Virginia-based company’s Sunrise at East 56th Street community in the heart of New York City. The project, which opened in 2021, is a 151-unit luxury community that regularly creates bespoke experiences for residents, including through partnerships with institutions such as the Juilliard School and Waldorf Astoria.


Sunrise at East 56th Street is nearing its one year anniversary just as another luxury Sunrise community opens up on New York City’s Upper West Side. The community, known as The Apsley and located at 85th Street and Broadway, is set to open in 2023 and consist of 18 floors spanning 76 AL apartments and 80 memory care apartments.

The Apsley by Sunrise Senior Living / Image Courtesy of Steelblue

Sunrise Senior Living operates 257 communities and is the sixth largest provider in the U.S.

Senior Housing News caught up with Tom Cana, general manager of Sunrise at East 56th Street and The Apsley, to learn how the company is putting its vision statement into action; and what’s in store for the future of Sunrise Senior Living.


Senior Housing News: Could you start off by explaining your role at both communities and how it fits into the organizational structure of Sunrise?

Cana: I opened [Sunrise at East 56th Street] as the executive director and I started on this project in 2019 to help support the pre-opening process here in Manhattan. As our sister property, the Apsley, is going through that phase now,I’ve transitioned into the role where I support the two executive directors for each property as a general manager. They oversee the day-to-day operations and I support them in a regional capacity.

Senior Housing News: How are things going at Sunrise at 56th Street and how operations are panning out so far?

Cana: Sunrise at East 56th Street opened on Dec. 6, 2021, and we’re coming up on our one-year anniversary which we are super excited about. It’s been really well-received by the larger community of Manhattan and Upper East Side, our neighbors and our local schools through the partnerships we’ve been able to create.

From a traffic standpoint and touring, the community is on pace to break 500 tours for the first 365 days. That gives you an idea of the volume that we’re seeing in interest here in Manhattan. From an operational standpoint, we couldn’t be luckier. It’s the greatest city to work in.

Half of our memory care environments are already occupied and assisted living is showing the same level of interest. So it’s been really refreshing. 

Senior Housing News: On Wednesday, Sunrise CEO Jack Callison unveiled a new vision statement at our BUILD conference in Chicago. How are you trying to integrate that new vision statement into the two communities you assist with?

Cana: We were aware that Jack had rolled that out publicly at our leadership conference back in September.

The way I see that it fits into 56th Street and The Apsley is that I think we’ve always had a strong reputation for providing high quality resident care. But what I think this statement really means to me is ensuring that the rest of our contributions, in addition to care also on that same level and reputation that we’ve earned. So everything from a dining experience, to programming, to housekeeping, culinary, everything has to be as good as our care and I think that is something that we are striving to achieve.

Senior Housing News: We’d love to hear more about some of the day-to-day things that you have created for residents that exemplify getting towards this new vision at Sunrise.

Cana: New York City offers an opportunity for these residents to really have these experiences that they have known their whole life. And we can continue to support those experiences, even though they’re living at a sunrise assisted living.

When a Friday night comes around, and a resident wants to go to Broadway, … [we can] organize a limousine.

What we’ll also do at the Apsley is, if family members are visiting from out of town we will arrange  their hotel services for them, just so everything is smooth and easy and they can truly enjoy their loved ones without the added details and stresses. Other things that also come to mind for me is the way the culinary experience has developed to where the families would rather eat here at our dining room than take their loved ones to a local restaurant, because we’re competitive with those five-star dining experiences. And it’s more enjoyable to have that meal in their home. 

Senior Housing News: Why is it so important to be able to provide these types of opportunities for residents, and how does that fit into the goals of what you are trying to accomplish at both communities?

Cana: We’re here to provide the resident care and we want to give them the highest quality care but the way that we become a community really exceed the expectations of our family members are those personal touches, and making sure that they know it’s not just a nine to five service, we are available to them 24/7, 365 days; not only to provide the highest level of quality care, but create an envious lifestyle for the seniors that are living at Sunrise at East 56th Street and the Apsley.

Senior Housing News: Could you explain why you think both of these communities exemplify the goal of being the future of luxury senior living?

Cana: Some of the first things that stood out to me was the beauty of the community and its design elements. So when that word luxury comes into my mind, the aesthetics, exterior and interior of the community really speak out for me.

In addition to that, I think it is the coordination combination of all the departments that we have at East 56th Street and at The Apsley that work together to support the overall goal. So the concierge and hospitality department, the programming department, everybody looking to create this five-star service. The last component of that would be our incredible locations. East 56th Street is less than three blocks of the entrance to Central Park. Some might view the Upper West Side as the suburbs of New York City, but it’s really just a beautiful luxury location and we’re lucky to be in the heart of it.

When I think about what comes next and what we are doing well, that might be different from the standard senior living operator. I want to highlight the programming we’ve been able to offer. We have a great relationship with Juillard and a great relationship with MoMA, the Metropolitan Opera House and all these incredible programming institutions at our fingertips. Not only do they welcome us for private events, our residents can have private tours or participate in one of their classes. They come to us. Local universities and institutions like NYU and Columbia that offer lectures to residents. Hopefully we’ll see our industry continue to do these amazing programs and bring these things that fulfill the lives of our residents.

Juillard specifically is one that I’m super proud of. We are lucky enough to have their musical program of students that come once a month, and they always come with a different performer. So last month, we had the saxophone performers come into the community. Next month could be the percussion department. We’re really benefiting from the variety of musical programs that Juilliard has to offer. And then something that we’re actually looking forward to in 2023 is rolling out their programming. Their comedy department will be on site with us and they will be offering lectures. We’re super grateful for that relationship. And we’re looking forward to having that.

For MoMA, they will send instructors and educators to the community and we have an art program in our art studio on our third floor. So really lucky to have places like the moment and the meet that are so welcoming to our residents, and also come to us.

Senior Housing News: Where do you see the biggest opportunities, and also, what are some of the challenges at both communities that you’re facing in the next 12 months?

Cana: We’re continuing to learn our opportunities, and that includes the vertical nature of these highrises in Manhattan.

Labor has certainly improved and we continue to keep up with the industry every single day. But we’re learning really that staffing and programming and execution of operations across 18 floors is something that we focus on every single day.

As far as opportunities, I think it’s about continuing to deliver what we consider five-star service as benefits obviously continues to grow. It’s been a really, really busy first year for us. And as more residents come, it’s our job to stay in-step with our growing census to make sure that we’re supporting our staff and our residents, along with the customer service piece and availability to our family members.

Senior Housing News: What will 2023 look like for both Sunrise at East 56th Street and The Apsley?

Cana: We’re celebrating the one-year mark with East 56th and The Apsley will open in the Spring of 2023. We have two different trajectories in mind. I am certainly excited about what feels like us turning the corner and being able to see our residents in full-action again.

Hopefully we are heading to a point where some of those [Covid-19 guidelines] will be part of the past, and we can really enjoy all of the normalcy that will return and programming that will come along with East 56th Street.

At the Apsley, as they are set to welcome the first residents in the spring, they’ll get to enjoy the opportunity of the community coming to life. It’s a special time when the community begins to welcome its first resident, second resident and all the celebrations that come with opening the doors. I’m excited about all of that for 2023.

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