Question of the Month: Urban Infill Seniors Housing

Is high-density, urban seniors housing a temporary trend or a new market reality that is here to stay?

Proximity, design, partnerships are key to success

By Joseph Hassel


Perkins Eastman

The trend of casual urban living environments is here to stay. This can be accomplished in a true urban environment, a created lifestyle community or in a suburban environment that has a downtown area.

This model is successful because it offers:

  1. proximity to transportation, community services, healthcare, social and cultural interaction, entertainment, civic participation and vocational opportunities.
  2. age-friendly design features such as a vertical orientation resulting in reduced walking distances to elevator cores and amenity spaces.
  3. partnerships that benefit residents and providers by offering unique programs that fit different lifestyles while reducing programming costs and spaces needed for programs. These partnerships can include life-long learning, wellness, community outreach, vocational and culinary opportunities.


Boomers will want urban living

By John Rijos

Founding Operator, Partner/CEO

Chicago Pacific Partners

Indeed, this trend will continue for quite a while.

With the enormous demand expected starting in 2022, fueled by the large net increase in the 75-plus cohort of almost 1 million net people per year, developers will continue to seek out and build on urban infill locations. 

The oldest Baby Boomers will be considering their next options and they will be attracted to these urban sites with close proximity to healthcare, shopping, green space and the intergenerational opportunities these locations present. 

The big challenge will be to build this product in an affordable manner, which is not easy with these more expensive sites.


Choose markets carefully

By Randy Richardson



Seniors housing development in high-density urban environments is definitely an emerging trend, but we will see more and more of this development in certain urban markets. It has to be the right market — it won’t work everywhere.  

There are some great mixed-use urban opportunities where including seniors housing makes a lot of sense. If executed properly, it will be met with positive customer response.


Mixed-use is the future

By Talya Nevo-Hacohen

Chief Investment Officer

Sabra Health Care REIT Inc.

If Millennials maintain their current view on lifestyle, then their parents will live in urban settings. 

Seniors housing has always existed in major cities. It will continue to thrive while remaining expensive, in order to be economically feasible compared with alternative land uses. The current trend will have to expand to include seniors housing in dense, mixed-use, lifestyle centers in suburban locations near transportation hubs in order to be viable.


Retail options add value

By Kathryn Burton Gray

Head of Seniors Housing and Health Care

RED Capital Group

The value of high-density, urban-based seniors housing is the impetus to build in high-barrier-to-entry locations. 

The parcel of land in an infill urban market is usually expensive and requires more vertical building requirements with immediate proximity to the street. While parking could be an issue, most of these urban communities tend to be built in areas that are more walkable and parking is dealt with in more creative ways.  

Therefore, the ground floor creates a huge opportunity for retail space. Some of my developer/operator clients are integrating retail into their senior living community.


Expect to see it grow further

By Allen McMurtry

Executive Director

Cushman & Wakefield

The development of high-density urban seniors housing is a trend that will not only stay, but become more popular.

While many developers of urban multifamily projects initially focused on Millennials, tremendous demand was also expressed from empty nesters looking to move in from the suburbs. 

Dense, urban cores with significant residential pockets might attract assisted living and memory care residents, but I see the majority of demand for independent living residents looking to take advantage of all the amenities an urban area has to offer.