Until the year 2030, there will be 10,000 Baby Boomers hitting retirement age each day, resulting in an increased need for affordable and low-maintenance housing that is designed for this growing sector of the population.
An estimated 5-8% of Boomers will opt to live in a seniors-only facility, creating opportunities for new communities with an average occupancy rate of 90-93%. Projects developed for the 55+ demographic focus on different details that set them apart from typical multifamily developments, impacting the design and construction of such projects.
Unit Design and Layout
Much of the 55+ population is looking to downsize, socialize, and be active. They are mostly empty nesters that want to live somewhere that facilitates social interactions and where their families will want to visit. The physical and financial stress of maintaining a large family home is no longer their priority, and they are more inclined to live a “golf cart mentality” lifestyle.
Because there is no need for the extra space, one, two, and three-bedroom units that still offer facilities to host their friends and family are highly desirable. These community designs include amenities and hardscape that are centralized where everything is tied together to support connectivity.
Similarly, other design features that are popular in a typical multifamily unit, including a second bathroom, tall kitchen cabinets, or finishes that require frequent cleaning, may not be considered a “must-have” feature for today’s active adult. This gives architects room to incorporate other elements that make living more comfortable, such as an increased amount of lighting, easy accessibility across the property, elevators, conditioned corridors, and rounded countertops for added safety.
Thoughtful developments are designed for aging actively and are built to welcome renters for decades. Active Adult Community developer Mike Oliver feels that adding home-like aspects to the design is essential. “Many of our residents have lived in or owned their own homes in the past so at our new 55+ project Olea at Nocatee, we made it a priority to make renters feel at home,” said Oliver. “In our design, we went as far as incorporating a communal garden where residents can take ownership in their plot of land and even start a gardening club if they want to.”
Downsize on Space, upgrade on Amenities
Like their younger counterparts, those who are over the age of 55 seek housing options that offer a social, community feel. Renters desire state-of-the-art amenities such as fitness centers with instructors, resort-style pools, walking trails, communal kitchens for cooking classes and wine socials, and plenty of centralized common space to interact with their peers. Convenient services that add to the neighborhood feel desired by Boomers include on-site cafes, package centers, and dog walking services.
Other popular features being integrated into today’s 55+ developments include spaces to accommodate hobbies such as a woodshop, art, or music studio. Keeping with the notion of “aging in place” communities are also incorporating different activities that will attract renters to stay long-term, such as beauty lessons, dance classes, speed dating sessions, and other events that keep the senior population engaged and active.
Ideally, senior living communities should be located within proximity to entertainment and urban conveniences such as hospitals, restaurants, retail, and healthcare. An excellent example of this would be the Live Oak and Pollack Shores Real Estate Group project, Olea at Nocatee.
In partnership with Pollack Shores, Live Oak Contracting is building the new 55+ community in growing St. Johns County. Located just south of Jacksonville, the fourth most affordable city to retire to in 2019, the community is located just a short golf cart ride away from Nocatee’s Town Center, and integrates convenient features desired most by senior renters, including a resort-style pool, library and craft room, dog park and golf cart charging stations.
Pollack Shores developer Mike Oliver says, “With this project, it was important for us to provide connectivity not just within the community but also with the surrounding area. Being close and accessible to retail, walking trails, and kayaking on the Intracoastal is all-important because it provides that strong sense of being part of a larger community.” To learn more about this project and Live Oak Contracting, contact us.