Senior Living Event Recap

On June 15, 2017, CREWBaltimore hosted 70 members and guests at the Center Club in Baltimore, MD for “The New Senior Housing” luncheon and panel discussion. The room was filled with architects, title processors, bankers and various other commercial real estate professionals and business owners. Moderated by Faith Nevins Hawks, Principal, Marks, Thomas Architects, our elite panel consisted of Chuck Harry, Chief of Research & Analytics, National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, Andrea Ownesby, Senior Director of Design, Sunrise Senior Living and Nancy Tegethoff Baker, Vice President of Marketing Intelligence, Erickson Living. Panelists provided a basic understanding of the senior housing industry, changes in trends, evolving structural requirements, and desired locations of the properties, as well as how Maryland in particular is working to keep residents local rather than losing them to more “flashy” parts of the country for retirement.


A quick breakdown of the levels of care for Senior Housing:

  • Independent– full-size apartments, meal programs, activities, some residents still work and volunteer
  • Assisted Living– mostly independent who need help with driving, medication admin, and bathing
  • Memory care– Dementia & Alzheimer’s residents who require space changes and a sensory experience
  • Skilled Nursing– full care with most tasks, schedule, feeding, and medication

Many communities are being designed so that residents can move through the levels of care and stay on the same campus, which is particularly helpful for couples who are in different stages.
The energy was high as the audience was intrigued to hear how technology has affected the industry with vendors like BathFitter and Uber making it easier for seniors to adapt and live in their homes longer. Many communities are Wi-Fi equipped and have an increase in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), though it has been difficult for some older properties to retrofit. Virtual Concierge, VR for memory care patients, electronic door locks and even robot deliveries of household items (ex. toiletries) have been popping up at some senior living communities across the country.

Prospective residents, competitors in the immediate market, land use, and functionality of the land are the main factors which developers look for in planning a build of a new senior housing facility. Many have been looking into locations directly off highway exits, rather than the typical suburban/rural areas we have historically seen, as a convenience factor for the families who visit.

It’s no secret that senior housing is a major expense with costs projected to increase as facilities need to expand, remodel and include more technology and amenities to stay relevant for the next generation of residents. Panelists advised saving early for this imminent expense as long-term care insurance covers less these days. Additionally, the real estate downturn affected affordability as many were unable to sell their homes that they relied upon to pay for the new housing.

Investors are now paying attention to space in preparation for a construction wave in 2020 to be ready for the baby boomers expected to enter the space in about 8 years – the average age of residents has increased to the high 80’s for assisted/skilled nursing.

To learn more about the senior housing industry, visit any of the websites for our panelists’ companies by hovering over the name for a direct link to their sites. As always, our Programs Committee put on another impressive event that all in attendance were able to benefit from.

CREWBaltimore will take a break for the summer with our next major luncheon event two months away on September 5th covering Ports and Industrial properties. For other Chapter events in the meantime, like our Anthem House Construction Tour or annual Golf Tournament, check out our Events page here.