Hip adult-only apartments the latest trend in senior living


MIAMI – April 4, 2018 – Pinochle, shuffleboard and early-bird specials are out. Yoga, happy hours, computer classes and potluck dinners are in.

While advertisers and the media fawn over the lucrative millennial audience, the real estate industry is starting to focus on another segment of the U.S. population: aging baby boomers.

According to the most recent estimates by the Census Bureau, the number of people between the ages of 52 and 70 living in the U.S. stood at 74 million as of July 1, 2016. While their ranks will thin out over the coming decades, baby boomers – anyone born between 1946 and 1964 – still need a place to live.

Increasingly, those empty nesters are selling their homes for a nice profit and becoming renters, according to a report on Kiplinger.com. But they're still young enough to lead active lifestyles and want to live in areas with plenty of options for recreation, instead of traditional nursing homes or senior citizen centers.

"There's a massive demographic shift here – and it will continue for the next 10 to 15 years – as the baby boomers reach retirement," said Todd Wigfield, senior managing director for development for the East Coast division of Greystar, the largest apartment building and management company in the U.S. "These are folks who may want to be closer to their families or want to sell their homes but don't want to buy a condo. They want to be renters by choice, but they also want to live in a community surrounded by their peers."

So developers are getting ahead of the game by building new apartment buildings where tenants must be 55 years or older. At least three new developments in Miami-Dade County tailored to senior dwellers are in the works in Miami Lakes, Doral and Dadeland – far away from the hubbub of Wynwood and Brickell, but well within reach of restaurants, shopping and other recreational amenities.

These new developments are different from the golf- and tennis-centric senior communities of the previous generation, which emphasized quiet, tranquil elegance away from dense urban areas.

Last week, developer Codina Partners and the homebuilder Lennar Corp. closed the sale of a 2.14-acre property in downtown Doral, just west of Northwest 87th Avenue, for $13.57 million. The South Florida Business Journal first reported the sale.

The buyer, Overture, plans an eight-story, 193-unit apartment building with units ranging from 800 to 1,357 square feet. The building will offer 240 parking spaces for tenants.

Overture, an affiliate of the Charleston, S.C.-based Greystar, was launched four years ago to focus exclusively on senior rental communities. More than 30 such buildings have either been completed or are under construction in 11 states, including Florida.

Armando Codina, executive chairman of Codina Partners, said a senior rental community finalizes the third of three puzzle pieces that had been missing from his overall vision for Doral – the other two being healthcare and education.

"Baptist Hospital is opening a facility in downtown Doral, and we'll be breaking ground soon on a high school grades 6-12 to go along with Downtown Doral Charter Elementary," Codina said. "We sold this land to Greystar because what they are bringing is a very specialized component. Maybe I'm getting older, but 55 isn't very old in my book. That's a very active community. They want to be near restaurants and retail."

Codina also said that an assisted-living facility in Doral is already under letter of intent, cementing the city's commitment to catering to the elderly population.

Older people want to have fun, too

The Doral building is Overture's second senior rental tower project in Miami-Dade. Due for completion in fall 2018 is Overture Dadeland Apartments, a luxury rental building at 7400 SW 88th St. that will feature 216 units ranging in size from 750 to 2,041 square feet. Rents will range from $3,400 to $5,700.

Amenities in the building are designed to encourage social interaction. Among them: a billiards and game room, cooking classes, a private tenants-only movie theater, potluck dinners and "Yappy Hours," or social mixers for tenants and their pets.

Also in the works: Four four-story buildings, with a total of 220 age-restricted units, on a lakeside property on the western edge of Miami Lakes. The project is being developed by Graham Companies and has been approved by the city's commission. But it is still in the early stages, with groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for the third quarter of 2018.

"When we started the process of evaluating what we were going to do in Miami Lakes with one of these last parcels of available land, we knew what was missing was a good senior living component," said Luis Martinez, senior executive vice president of Graham Companies. "It just didn't exist."

Martinez said the company will build a senior community center within walking distance to the apartments and donate it to the city.

Greystar's Wigfield said that while millennials will continue to be the company's main focus, senior-rental communities are an interesting niche that fill a growing gap between conventional rentals and assisted-living facilities.

"This product type is still relatively new," he said. "There's obviously still a lot of investor interest in independent and assisted living. But there are a lot of people who don't necessarily want to live next door to millennials but aren't ready to go into a facility, either. There's a growing demand for this product across the whole country."

© 2018 Miami Herald, Rene Rodriguez. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.