United Properties and our valued partner Ebenezer were among the sponsors and participants at the 12th Annual Senior Housing Summit, presented by Minnesota Real Estate Journal on October 25, 2018. The four-hour event gave an excellent overview of local and national trends, as well as insights from leading experts in the industry, including our very own Ray Oborn, President of Cherrywood Pointe Investments.
Let’s look at a few takeaways from the event and how the senior housing industry, as well as United Properties, is strengthening communities for today’s senior citizens.
Today’s seniors are savvy consumers.
Senior housing developers are competing not only with each other but with a boom in construction of general occupancy apartments. (One general occupancy property manager noted over 50% of his tenants are seniors.) To attract consumers to their properties, developers have had to become much more creative in building in next-generation amenities like pet spas and makerspaces.
Create a lifestyle, not just a place to live
That was the advice of Joyce Stupnik of bdh+young. Joyce identified four key components necessary to creating a lifestyle: engagement, enrichment, experience and enjoyment. She emphasized that design is not just a visual exercise, but one that should involve all five senses. And forget about bingo! Today’s program directors should think of a variety of enriching and engaging activities like wine tastings or bringing in speakers from the local university.
Architect Chris Pakowitsch of BKV Group suggested site-specific differentiators. One California complex is planning an on-site vineyard, for instance. He also encouraged developers to think how branding can come into play in their projects. As an example, he showed a communal table with raw wood accents, which was created specifically for an outdoors-themed community.
The importance of community
Mari Strong, Chaplain at The Fountains of Hosannah!, shared moving stories of how communities can bring purpose and joy to seniors’ lives. One resident, whose handmade quilts were no longer needed at a local hospital, was able to redirect her donations to a global children’s charity, thanks to the resources and guidance of The Fountains of Hosannah!
Put seniors at the center of development
It seems obvious that the consumers come first, but several presenters acknowledged the difficulty of doing so while trying to “value engineer” projects. A few shared eye-opening experiences of helping their own parents choose senior housing and how it has changed their approach to their work. Ray Oborn challenged the group to invite actual residents to future Seminars, so attendees could hear first-hand from the people the industry serves.
These are just a few of the highlights from the Summit, which underscored the enormous opportunities – and real challenges – facing developers because of the “silver tsunami” that’s just beginning to hit the marketplace. Increased competition demands that developers continue to innovate, differentiate and stay up-to-date in the industry.
United Properties strives to be the best in-class real estate provider for seniors choosing to move into a community-based solution. By providing quality living spaces and keeping up with the senior housing trends, we aspire to bring joy to the lives of the seniors we serve.