Customized, built-to-order continuing care residences in Naples, Florida, have redefined retirement living in this Sunshine state senior retirement paradise. Naples, which barely blinked while the rest of the country battled the housing market crunch and recession of 2008, continues to provide innovative upscale, up-market senior living and lifestyle solutions. Coincidentally, the new built-to-order residences, known as “lifestyle apartments” are changing the Continuing Care Residential Community (CCRC) landscape across the country.
The new concept is designed to take stereotype floor plans and space away from CCRC and provide residents customized space that reflects their hobbies and interests. In other words, lifestyle apartments are intended to reflect the individualism that seniors have spent their lives exploring and developing.
This approach to CCRC independent living allows the residents to respond to a survey that contains questions about how the residents will use their apartment. For example, do they expect to cook often? Or, will the resident host bridge games or use a big screen television?
Once the survey is completed, the CCRC developer and manager review the specifications with the designer and builder and submit plans to the resident. In most cases, CCRCs that adopt this strategy are sold out before the first shovel hits the ground.
Repetition is the enemy with lifestyle apartment CCRC living. Developers report that no two apartments look or feel the same, because no two occupants are the same or live the same way.
The Moorings Waterside Residences
One such successful lifestyle apartment Continuing Care Retirement Community are the Waterside Residences at the ultra-popular Moorings in Naples, FL. Perkins Eastman brought their customization concept to Moorings Park, a nonprofit CCRC with 74 assisted living units, 106 skilled nursing residences and 384 independent living units of which 29 are lifestyle apartments, in 2010.
The units were sold before ground was broken. Moorings Park CEO, Dan Lavender explains: “More and more people who are moving into these communities want to customize their own experience, and that includes customizing the unit that they live in.”
Based upon their original popularity and success, Moorings Park subsequently build three additional buildings and dubbed the ensemble as Waterside Residences. All buildings opened for occupancy in 2013 and are 100% occupied. Cost of construction amounted to $63 million, but included all three buildings, a stellar 37,000 square foot Center for Healthy Living, a garage and restaurant for residences.
Moorings Park began pre-selling customized units in 2010. Completion of units took about a year from the date plans were approved. As of this date, no residents have vacated their original units but when they do Moorings Park will start customizing from scratch.
A Winning Concept and Strategy
As might be expected, lifestyle apartments are not for everyone. In Moorings Park, the average apartment offers 2,800 square feet of living space. The average entrance fee is more than $1 million, which is consistent with the cost of real estate in Naples. The actual sizes range from 1,700 square feet to 5,500 square feet with prices from $800,000 to more than $2 million.
Interestingly, there is such demand for lifestyle apartments that residents are moving in ahead of the average national age for entry to CCRC’s. Moorings Park reports their average entry age is 76, six years earlier than the industry standard of 82.
Naples is known for its upscale senior living communities, many of which include golf courses and beach fronts. Lavender says of the project’s viability; “Our customers saw value in this kind of a customization. They really felt like the last home they were getting was theirs; that they’re not moving into an institution.”
Moorings Park has been so successful that they have expanded their footprint with a new CCRC known as Moorings Park at Grey Oaks. Only two sizes will be available, just under 3,000 square feet and slightly more than 3,000 square feet. Grey Oaks will have less customization capability but the concept is being embraced eagerly. 93 of a proposed 96 independent lifestyle apartments have already been sold. It seems like lifestyle apartments are the wave of the future.