Luxury retirement housing in Dallas setting a new standard

North Texas’ apartment-building boom is all about millennials, but the number of high-end senior housing communities is also on the rise

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 6:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 7:38pm

North Texas’ apartment-building boom is all about the millennials.

Young professionals taking jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have created record demand for rental housing. But their grandparents need some new digs, too. The number of high-end senior housing communities in the area is also increasing.

The quality of these facilities is being ramped up for a new generation of seniors used to finery and frills at home and when they travel.

“Some people still have the mindset of the old nursing home and that stigma,” said Dallas developer Jonathan Perlman. “They lose that notion when they see one of our facilities.”

Perlman recently opened his firm’s newest assisted-living apartments, Tradition-Prestonwood, in far north Dallas.

The company’s assisted-living community in the Dallas area is also about to open.

More than 200 independent-living apartments in the community, Tradition-Lovers Lane, debuted earlier this year and are already fully leased.

The senior community on Lovers Lane is right next door to a popular grocery store.

“This location is hard to duplicate,” Perlman said. “We are close to the Park Cities, Preston Hollow and Lakewood.

“The majority of our residents want to be close to where they used to live. Or they move here to be close to their children and grandchildren.”

Dick Hart and his wife, Gloria, both in their 80s, settled into their new two-bedroom apartment on Lovers Lane earlier this year.

The couple traded their home in the Dallas area for the luxury senior community, and they spend a lot of time travelling.

“I’m at the lake house now and just got in from fishing,” Hart said. “On Sunday I’m heading out to north Arkansas. Our move has worked out better than we anticipated.”

The Harts have a 1,600 sq ft apartment at Tradition-Lovers Lane.

Units in the high-end seniors apartment community start at about US$3,200 a month for an 800 sq ft one-bedroom. That rent includes a meal allowance in the project’s restaurant; use of the fitness centre with indoor pool, equipment room and programmes; weekly housekeeping; and transportation services. Utilities except for phone, television and internet are also included.

There is a movie theatre, a dog park, a library, game rooms and plush lounge areas.

“As people move in and start living with the common areas, they realise they don’t need as much space in their apartment,” Perlman said. He added that most of the residents are in their 70s and 80s, and about a third of the apartments are rented to couples.

Even with his current success, Perlman said the business has challenges. Senior housing developers have had to scramble to compete with traditional apartment builders for land, labour and construction materials.

“You have to be careful that you can provide the amenities at the right price structure,” he said. “And you have to be careful not to overbuild in one area. Only 10 to 15 per cent of 80-year-olds are going to want to leave their homes and move into one of these projects.”

Maybe so, but demographics point to a huge increase in demand for senior housing during the next couple of decades. Each day, more than 10,000 Americas turn 65. And forecasts say that about 20 per cent of US residents will be older than 65 by 2030.

The deluxe Edgemere community, also in the Dallas area, just started a US$36 million expansion and upgrade.

“The expectations of the residents are increasing, and we have to upgrade our community,” said Edgemere managing director John Falldine. “My customer is used to a high level of service. When they travel, they stay at Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton,” he said.

The additions to the 14-year-old Edgemere include a new performing arts centre, more living space, an underground parking garage and revamped dining venues, common areas and outdoor areas.

“We are used to being the top of the market and would like to stay there,” Falldine said.

Two more high-end senior housing projects are planned to start soon in the Dallas area.

Silverstone Healthcare is just months away from beginning construction on its HarbourChase of the Park Cities community. Located on the east side of the Dallas North Tollway, the eight-story building is Silverstone’s second local project.

And Buckner Senior Living has begun signing up residents for communities in two towers. About 190 luxury units are planned in the modern high-rises, which will start construction at the end of next year.

Many of the prospective residents are in their late 60s, vice president Scott Collins said.

“There has been a real strong response to the high-rise at a younger age than we are used to,” Collins said. “The average age is about 10 years younger than we are seeing in other communities.

“They like the urban lifestyle in the high-rise.”