Seniors Housing Business

AUG-SEP 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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Page 34 of 80

34 Seniors Housing Business n August-September 2018 By Lynn Peisner Most seniors housing communities offer more than care and a nice place to live. A pool, fitness center, quality dining — these are the bare necessities most residents of an average for-profit rental community expect for the dol- lars they spend. So if it's all basically the same, how do so- called "luxury" properties move the needle on units, amenities and services they deliver to the wealthy senior? Luxury offerings vary by owner and by region. They can, however, be broken down into two simple categories that Vi Living Presi- dent Randy Richardson applies to his 10 lux- ury life plan communities: environment and experience. Vi comes from the Latin word vita, meaning life. The company says it exemplifies a dedica- tion and enthusiasm as an organization to pro- viding quality environments, services and care that enrich the lives of older adults. Entry fees at Vi's life plan communities, all of which are located in affluent areas through- out the United States, vary from $250,000 to $4 million plus a monthly fee, which averages from approximately $3,500 to $6,500. Vi owns and operates all 10 of its life plan communities, with a total unit count of 4,062. At Bentley Village in Naples, Vi completed an $80 million redevelopment that opened in 2017 with two new clubhouses and an addi- tional 72 apartment units attached to the main clubhouse. The entrance fees for this specific group of apartments average $1.1 million apiece, plus a monthly fee. For these costs, residents live in an environ- ment that looks and feels like an exclusive, posh resort. This means multiple pools and 18-hole golf courses at some properties. Resi- dential homes and apartments are spacious, with high-end finishes and custom colors for the paint and carpet. The average age of a Vi resident at move-in is 78 to 80. The communities offer many amenities including several dining venues, health and fit- ness clubs, activity programs, movie theaters, art studios, and on-site salons to name a few. Programming includes instruction in writing, art and music, guest speaker and lecture series, clubs, cultural outings, social functions and more. Richardson says each Vi community is constantly exploring new and unique opportu- nities for residents to experience. Service is where Vi aims to truly differenti- ate. Vi chefs are certified and receive training at the Culinary Institute of America. The com- munities offer 24-hour valet and concierge ser- vices and salons with full spa menus. In the care department, licensed nurses are available 24 hours a day, and several wellness programs involve physicians, personal trainers and yoga instructors. Richardson asserts that the daily life experi- ence matters more than the buildings, ameni- ties and grounds. The quality of the staff really makes a difference. He says the results of a recent survey revealed that 93 percent of Vi's residents have or will recommend a Vi com- munity to their friends or family. The reason for that high mark is the community's staff. "In this industry, the average turnover rate is 45 to 50 percent," he says. "If you're turn- ing over half your workforce every year, there's no way that you can provide consistent, high- quality service and care every day. You just can't do it." Richardson reports Vi's employee turnover rate is 20 percent, and more than 30 percent of its employees have been with the company for over 10 years. This is due in large part not only to offering a competitive salary and ben- efits package, but also to the company's focus on training and development, promoting from within and on employee-centric programs, such as tuition reimbursement. "The high-quality service and care provided by our outstanding staff translates directly to high resident satisfaction," says Richardson. High-end look Luxury communities often provide special investment and attention for interior design standards that set themselves apart in a mar- ket. Louisville, Colorado-based Balfour Senior Living, for example, is committed to elevating architecture and design in the seniors sector. Phill Barklow, chief operating officer of Balfour Senior Living, says that some communities that call themselves "luxury" don't look any differ- ent from moderately priced communities. "Luxury seniors housing is an overused term in our industry and has become a bit of a misnomer," says Barklow. "What we have observed is that seniors housing projects exist in luxury markets, but often the traditional seniors housing architecture and interiors dom- inate the developments and decrease their lux- ury appeal." Balfour has brought interior design and architecture in-house, which enables the com- pany to work in partnership with national architecture firms that may not specialize in building seniors housing. Balfour Riverfront Park community in Den- ver is a repurposing of the historic Moffat Depot. Opened in 1906, the Georgian Revival style depot was the hub for a rail line its founder, David Moffat, hoped to extend to the West Coast. The routes, known as the Moffat Road, were never completed, and the building went through a series of tenants and periods of vacancy until Balfour purchased it. The com- pany returned the building to its former glory and opened it in 2014 with independent living, assisted living and memory care residences. In 2015, Hospitality Design magazine awarded the community the Best Design award in the senior living/health care category. The magazine noted that the interiors of Bal- four Riverfront Park were influenced by Doro- thy Draper & Company's Carlton Varney, one of the country's best-known interior designers, with products from Schumacher, Kindel Furni- ture and Moore & Giles leather. The restora- From butlers to spas to fine dining, operators put emphasis on service, but shouldn't assume all customers want the same amenities. High-cost seniors communities deliver luxury in many ways. In addition to high-quality care, residents can typically expect posh interiors, unique programming and an ever- increasing emphasis on food and beverage programs. Pictured is the taproom in Brandywine Living's Livingston community in Livingston, New Jersey, which opened in 2017. Industry Reinvents Luxury Housing n Development

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