The Blake News

Now under construction in the Capital Region: Not your usual senior housing

With a booming economy and employment in the Baton Rouge area at an all-time high, residential construction in the region has soared, with the number of new residential building permits reflecting the demand for new housing in the area.

Yet, while attention focuses on housing for a growing workforce, construction and development are also booming for another category of resident: seniors. In particular, several high-end developments are in the works in the Baton Rouge market, reflecting a national trend to provide residences tailored to the aging baby boomer market.

With wine lockers, gaming centers and art studios, these aren’t your typical independent and assisted living facilities for seniors.

“Nationally, as everyone knows, there’s a significant aging population, which is one reason a lot of markets are seeing a big push for senior-living developments,” says Harrison Young, owner of Cardinal Ventures, which is co-developing The Blake at The Grove with CR Properties. “Coupled with that, the baby boom generation has a lot of wealth and high expectations. With this need and demand, the national trend is to bring new, nicer projects to the market.”

About 80% of residents in these new developments will come from the Baton Rouge region. However, some will move to the area from other parts of the country as their adult children who live and work in Baton Rouge want their aging parents and other family members to be closer to them.

Much of the existing inventory of senior housing was built 20 to 25 years ago and is starting to show its age, says Steve Hicks, chairman and CEO of Provident Resources Group, which is developing Provident Village at Americana in Zachary.

“More facilities are being added because the existing inventory is outdated and does not meet the demands of today’s consumer of senior living services,” Hicks says. “East Baton Rouge Parish post-Katrina has had a huge growth in population relative to where we should be had greater New Orleans not have been devastated by Katrina. The entire I-10/I-12 corridor is a huge-growth area, and that growth is at all levels of income and across all different age groups. Just as demand for other services has risen, the demand for quality senior care has risen. ”

The higher-end, upscale developments reflect baby boomers’ attitudes, expectations and lifestyles. For example, baby boomers tend to be more active than their parents, so they want health and fitness to feature in any residential development targeting them—even in their golden years.

Often it is the adult children—and not the seniors themselves—making the decision about where their parents will live. So senior living developments must meet those decision makers’ expectations, as well.

“The first thing everyone is concerned with is getting the right quality of care,” says Kathryn Juneau, a Baton Rouge-based Realtor who represents Avanti, the company developing Avanti at Highland. “When they’re making decisions, the adult children are then also looking for the types of amenities that they would like. They want the best for their parents.”

Senior living developments typically offer some combination of units for independent, assisted care and memory care living, providing a continuum of care for residents. Independent units are designed for senior residents who have an active lifestyle but want to downsize or simplify. Meanwhile, assisted-living units are for residents who need more hands-on personal care. Residents with memory impairment issues, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, live in the memory care units, which are usually located in a secure building.

Four projects in development in the greater Baton Rouge area include The Blake at The Grove, Garden View at Jones Creek, Provident Village at Americana and Avanti at Highland. While similarities among the developments exist, the differences across developments reflect the complex, nuanced expectations that seniors have developed over their lifetimes.

The Blake at The Grove

Location: Off Interstate 10 adjacent to the Mall of Louisiana

Number of units: 213, including 111 independent, 67 assisted living and 37 memory care

Time frame: Construction set to start this fall, with a target opening date of early 2017

When Mississippi-based Cardinal Ventures and CR Properties were considering where to develop a senior-living project, they looked no further than Baton Rouge. They ultimately chose to locate the 235,000-square-foot development at The Grove, a traditional neighborhood development off Interstate 10 adjacent to the Mall of Louisiana.

“We picked The Grove because of its location in Baton Rouge,” says CR Properties Rob Tatum, who has experience building multifamily developments in Baton Rouge post-Katrina. “We liked that the site is adjacent to The High Grove apartment complex, well-positioned near the Interstate and a linear park, and the presence of high-end development there. Choosing the Baton Rouge market really was a no-brainer.”

Harrison Young, owner of Cardinal Ventures, says setting up shop in an existing TND also appealed to them. “We like to be near vibrant, mixed-use, walkable projects,” he says. “The higher density among mixed-use helps keep our residents active and young.” The demand for upscale, resort-style senior living “speaks to the growth and affluence of Baton Rouge, and particularly this area of Baton Rouge,” Young adds. The development will be managed by Blake Management Group, which also will operate The Blake at Lafayette when it opens in 2016, as well as CR Properties’ The Claiborne at Thibodaux, a retirement community that will also open in the first quarter of 2016.

Residents at The Blake at The Grove will have access to amenities ranging from a salon and spa to on-site restaurants and bistros serving chef-prepared meals. Residents in assisted-care and memory-care units will have three meals a day in the restaurants, while those in the independent-living units will have the option to eat in the restaurants or on their own, if they prefer.

Tatum says a common mistake made with some senior-living developments is approaching them like any other multifamily housing project.

“In a traditional mixed-use development, the housing is built for people who go to work and aren’t home for much of the day,” he says. “We’re providing a community for seniors, which requires a lot more thought. It’s important to think through the life of a senior and pay attention to their unique needs. We’re very conscious of what we put into the property, and we plan out how it fits into the wider community. The expectations of today are different—you have to provide a lifestyle that people are used to. I had a real estate professor who said, ‘Never build something you wouldn’t live in yourself,’ and that’s how we approach it. When you care that much, it resonates.”

Full article originally published by Greater Baton Rouge Business Report


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