A growing (older) community: Apartment complexes for seniors

By 11 a.m., the dining area at Brookdale Grand Court is full of hungry residents ready to have lunch.

 

Mickey Hallman ordered the fried fish and french fries, just some of the options on the Friday menu. He said the meal is one of the best the kitchen offers, and also recommended the ribs.

Hallman had a big day ahead. He was waiting on news of the birth of his first great-grandchild. He said the expected girl was taking her time, as was his daughter who was supposed to call him. Dealing with two dawdling women could be difficult, he joked.

“But, if everything was perfect, life would get boring,” Hallman said.

Hallman is one of dozens of residents at the Brookdale property, where he has lived for around 14 years. Grand Court is a senior independent living facility. Residents have their own apartments, with access to meals, recreational and social activites. Grand Court is one of many independent living options in Lubbock, with more on the way.

On Thursday, The Stellar Family of Companies broke ground on their first community for people 55 and older, The Providence at 5814 98th St. Paul Stell, managing director of the company, said the facility will have 108 one- and two-bedroom units. The complex will have unique community features, like a computer cafe, library and a fitness center with age-appropriate equipment. The Providence is scheduled to open next fall, and pre-leasing will start soon.

“We’re excited to get this project started,” Stell said. “Over the next 12 months, we’ll be trying to build a quality product that Lubbock can be proud of and many seniors can call home for many years to come.”

There are several reasons a family may consider an independent living facility, Stell said. For many seniors, owning and maintaining a home can be both physically and financially exhausting. This kind of community can alleviate some of that stress and offer new opportunities for people who may feel alone.

“Many seniors are in homes by themselves, not very mobile, unable to drive,” Stell said. “They become isolated and their quality of life diminishes.”

Ron Mehl, vice president and project partner with Dominium, which owns Lubbock independent living community Hillcrest Manor at 1102 N Memphis Ave., cited the same reasons for why the second largest affordable housing developer in the nation has invested in senior living solutions. Twenty-five percent of Dominium properties are specifically for the demographic.

As the baby boomer generation ages, Mehl said the demand for this kind of housing will increase.

“Everyone knows what’s going on with the baby boomers. We’re just seeing a huge need for it,” Mehl said. “Most of our senior housing is full, it has a very low vacancy rate. Knowing what the demographics are, it’s a very durable market.”

Demographics indicate interest will only increase; the 65-and-older population is expected to double by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

From the developers’ point of view, this a good trend to invest in. Mehl said neighborhoods are generally welcoming of senior living communities, meaning little area push back. Senior tenants are also likely to lease units longer, Mehl said, on average five to seven years.

There are few differences between general complexes and independent living ones, Mehl said. He may not include a beauty salon in a traditional complex, but his company’s goal is still to provide affordable and dependable housing.

“At the end of the day, it’s still an apartment complex designed for active adults,” Mehl said.

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