Question of the Month: Seniors Housing and Mixed-Use Developments

What is the ideal fit for seniors housing in a broader mixed-use development concept?

Idea is overdue

By Isaac Dole

Founder/Managing Partner

Birchwood Health Care Properties

I have always wondered why multi-generational mixed-use developments have not become more popular. I personally believe if a development contained both seniors housing and a daycare (or even an elementary school), it could do really well. The two could share resources like kitchen, housekeeping, etc., and also offer some really great programming together.

 Theoretically, the daycare or elementary school would increase adult children visit frequency to the seniors housing community alone, but adding regular errand businesses like grocery, dry cleaning or pharmacy would make the destination even more appealing — as would having an activity for the whole family like a restaurant, ice cream store or painting studio.


Choose partners carefully

By Brenda J. Bacon

President and CEO

Brandywine Living

It needs to be intentional and not just convenient. Mature Americans want a neighborhood. Nearby shopping, restaurants, arts, culture, yoga and various attractions are essential, not office buildings and traffic. They want people around to go to dinner or a show with, to go for a walk or to play poker, with the privacy of living in their own space. It’s freedom and choice without isolation. 

As we work with mixed-use developers who are interested in including senior living, let’s make sure we are focusing on what our population wants and needs. If we do, it can be a marriage made in heaven.


New economics make it possible

By Michael Stoller

Managing Partner and CEO

LCB Senior Living

We have long felt that the ideal location for seniors housing is within close proximity to mixed-use real estate including coffee shops, restaurants, retail and varied residential uses. 

Frankly, part of this recent trend is due to changing real estate economics providing the ability for seniors housing to be a viable option in developments that were previously focused on apartments and condominiums. Ideally, well-planned seniors housing will always work best in a setting that includes the amenities that our residents want to be near, expanding their feeling of being in the action, along with additional convenience for their families.


Mixed-use is a natural fit

By Stephanie Harris

CEO and Principal

Arrow Senior Living

Seniors housing within a mixed-use development can provide an ideal transition from commercial and retail aspects to residential. A storefront concept can be used for salon, therapy and dining to provide a nice integration with the broader development. 

While the typical senior chooses seniors housing for convenience of services under one roof, a mixed-use development location can be convenient for family and visitors. Collective marketing efforts by businesses create more visibility for the project.

Most cities have favorable zoning in mixed-use developments. Greater density of units can improve the scale of the operation and affordability, especially for the middle-market sector.


Consider construction impact, timeline

By Richard B. Swartz

Vice Chairman, Equity, Debt & Structured Finance, National Senior Housing Capital Markets Group

Cushman & Wakefield

Mixed-use developments can provide an attractive, amenity-rich environment for seniors housing, particularly those that incorporate a high-end grocer serving quality prepared foods and a pharmacy. 

A successful mixed-use project will seek to minimize the potential traffic impact from the other uses that may be generated at peak times, as well as provide a more simplified ingress and egress for residents and their guests. Finally, it is important to time the opening of the seniors housing component toward the completion of the overall project in order to avoid subjecting the residents to the disruptions of an active construction site. 


Seniors are looking for this product

By Dale Watchowski


REDICO/American House

Many seniors housing communities are located in suburban areas. But now we’re seeing the trend of seniors housing developers and operators, like REDICO and American House Senior Living Communities, looking at building or renovating communities in walkable, vibrant, urban areas.

A mixed-use development provides synergies between seniors housing, medical, retail, dining and entertainment, all of which also appeal to the adult child. We have communities located within a few of our Michigan mixed-use developments, such as Grosse Pointe Farms, Dearborn and one coming online in Bloomfield Hills. We know this is what seniors are looking for, and we want to offer that product.


Get into the process early

By Jeremy Cole


Blake Management Group

Our highest priority is being able to provide an integrated care approach with the convenience of services and healthcare nearby. Proximity and low complexity is good for everyone. We want our residents to truly to be part of the community, enjoy local events close to home and the larger area. 

Our newest community in Fort Mill, South Carolina, is in the epicenter of a neighborhood that includes schools, library, parks and markets, all where individuals use golf carts to travel from shop to shop. Senior living works great when we are an essential part of the concept of creating a village.


Benefits go both ways

By Ted MacBeth

SVP/Director of Life Plan Development 

LCS Development

Access to amenities makes senior living and mixed-use development good partners. The proximity to cultural, recreational and social opportunities offers a desirable lifestyle for residents and helps communities attract and retain employees. The benefits can be reciprocal; residents may provide off-hour business at stores and restaurants, in addition to extra foot traffic from employees and residents’ families.

Sagewood in Phoenix, Arizona, is a successful example of a mixed-use master development featuring senior living adjacent to Mayo Clinic, shopping, dining and entertainment. The resort-style community continues to experience demand due to its ideal location and proximity to urban living.