5 Facts About Developing Active Adult Apartments

From senior living to healthcare, multi-family to active adult developments, it takes experts to successfully develop efficient and financially feasible communities. There are many components to a development that require an experienced and knowledgeable team to execute an owner’s vision.

When it comes to active adult communities, the nuances of combining multi-family and seniors housing development is essential. Nationally known developer and contractor, Avenue Development, set out to reach the evolving demands and desires of the next generation of aging adults by combining development expertise on a foundation of value-based healthcare trends.

In fact, Avenue launched a new active adult operational brand, Viva Bene, which introduces a revolutionary living environment that integrates the social amenities of a residential community with healthcare partners and care coordination services modeled around the principles of value-based care. The aim is to focus on person-centered wellness and allow Viva Bene residents to Live the Good Life within the comforts of their home for many years to come.

Hear the five facts about developing active adult apartments from industry leader and developer, Laurie Schultz. 

Q: What is Avenue’s approach to active adult development?

Laurie: Avenue’s background has been in senior living and healthcare. Myself, my business partner Mike Mattingly, and our entire team have focused on it. We have combined decades of development experience in senior living, working with hospital systems, primary care providers and value-based care providers on the real estate side. In more recent years, we’ve done more of the value-based primary care medical clinic development for several different wonderful providers in providing them a strategic national platform for expansion. What we saw in the combination of all of that was there is a silo of the senior living care continuum and a silo of healthcare that is focused on senior wellness, but there wasn’t really an integration of the two. 

We wanted to bring a platform in an active adult 55+ rental community model that integrates preventative care into a vibrant, active living community. Viva Bene is Italian for “live well,” and we think that really speaks to what we’re doing. We want young, vibrant seniors to age well in place, have an active lifestyle, and do it in a way that gives them, what our partner Sevi Health likes to call “generational health.”

Q: What does a resident want in an active adult community?

Laurie: One of the pillars of Viva Bene is accessible. For us, accessible is the perfect word that also integrates affordability into it. It’s accessible for all, it’s a welcoming community, but it’s accessible from a price standpoint too. We are definitely reaching an affordability crisis for the next generation of seniors in this country. Seven years from now, there’s about 40% of the baby boomer population that will have a savings of $25,000 or less. And this is something that we truly believe as Team Avenue that not enough people are working on and it is not serving the seniors of America who have worked so hard for us for generations. Part of this model for Viva Bene is bringing in a healthcare partner who is doing care coordination and primary care services on site for our residents is to help bring in some healthcare services on a preventative basis to help people live better longer and age in place in their homes. On the Viva Bene platform with our partnerships, access to Sevi Health is included in the rent and these rents are very similar to other active adult communities and multi-family communities in a specific market. This results in saving anywhere from 20 to 45% compared to a traditional independent living community.

View: Viva Bene St. Peter’s

Q: What is the timeframe of development for active adults versus traditional senior living?

Laurie: “Active adult” is a relatively new term and if it’s new within an industry that knows what it is, when you bring it out to a community, it is a brand new language. There is a lot of education in any development with municipal leaders, neighbors, and community leaders. We always want to educate them and get them involved in our development. It’s very easy for those partners to understand once we explain what senior living is. It is assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, they have experience with family members in that.

When we’re talking about active adult, we have to actually educate more than we do in a typical senior living process because a lot of people just hear “multi-family” and the red flags go up. Multi-family in a lot of cities right now is almost a four letter word because of the boom in apartments. A lot of times people worry about the drain it has on municipal services, on transportation and roads, on school impact, etc. We have to educate them on active adult and how it is like a multi-family community but we do have age restrictions, etc., it eases some of those concerns. It has surprised me that a timeline for entitlements is slightly longer because of that education process.

Q: What programming and wellness amenities does an active adult resident desire?


Laurie: Programming, which we call our Propel platform on Viva Bene, is something that Team Ave has spent years developing along with our healthcare partner, Sevi Health. This was a pillar that was incredibly important to us because we want this to still be a social community. Part of the reason a young senior may decide to live in this type of community is socialization. They may live alone and want to be around friends. We wanted to keep what other active adult communities have, that social engagement piece intact. What we also wanted to do was have those socialization activities, the programming pieces, really revolve around our theme of wellness and how you can live a healthier life longer in a Viva Bene community. All of our programming goes around that theme. We have created, from a development design standpoint, a wellness hub in our building that has access to our Sevi Health clinic, fitness center, traditional cardio center, but also a mindfulness room that can be used for meditation or yoga. We have a separate multipurpose room that can really be used for a lot of different seminars on wellness, education, demonstration classes on how to cook, and not just your typical low sodium diet recipes. How do you have a fun diet that you enjoy eating that’s also healthy? All of those things can happen in our multipurpose room that is perfectly integrated into the design of the fitness and healthcare clinic space.

Q: What is different about an active adult community from the real estate perspective?

Laurie: It’s a blend of senior living and multi-family, which on its surface sounds like it could go both ways. It is crucial to have a lens in both arenas to do this well because of the operational platform and the affordable rent that you want to achieve. You really need your operational chassis to look more like a multi-family community from how you staff, come up with programming, and handle maintenance. All of that really needs to operate in margins similar to multi-family, but have some of the high touch components and detail orientation that you have in the senior living community.

Q: What does an integrated healthcare model look like?

Laurie: As we were developing the Viva Bene model, we focused on the end goal. The end goal for our team was to create a new affordable model of senior living that would allow residents to age in place with preventative care services. The outcome of that is truly a new operational platform that integrates healthcare/wellcare with a residential community. There are lots of senior living communities right now that are integrating primary care services, maybe with health systems. It is not necessarily where both sides are working in a true interconnected company. The future of Viva Bene is going to be an interconnected community, where a resident’s health and wellness also impacts the bottom line of a community on top of the typical real estate NOI that investors look at. So we are really integrating with our healthcare partners to create a platform that is similar to value-based care. You take more risk, you get more reward for a patient’s health in value-based care. And we want to create a platform with Viva Bene in the long-term that does that on the residential side. So we are really incentivized to keep our residents healthy longer and living a better quality of life.

Anything in life that becomes partially successful is always a little bit of hard work and a little bit of luck. From a development standpoint of senior living, Avenue has a vast amount of experience from legal to construction to development, to accounting to operations. We are able to bring together some pieces of all facets of multi-family, senior living and healthcare, and combine those three pillars into an active adult model. All three of those are incredibly crucial to be successful.

Learn more about Avenue Development or Viva Bene and connect with Laurie Schultz.


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