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High demand spurs local senior housing projects

May 18, 2016—Mirroring a national trend, the 55-and-older populations in Pearland and Friendswood continue to rise. As the baby boomer generation—defined as those born between 1946-64—ages, more local senior living projects are developing to meet the growing demand.

Banfield Properties, a Friendswood-based real estate developer, will soon break ground on its third senior housing facility in the city. On the west side of Pearland, Watercrest at Shadow Creek Ranch is under construction to add to the senior living options in the area.

“I’ve seen statistics that nationwide there’s almost 10,000 people retiring a day,” Banfield Properties President Brett Banfield said. “[Officials] expect roughly about 3 million [retirees] a year. They expect that to continue for the next 20 years.”

Even with increased development, some senior citizen advocacy officials said the supply of senior housing and the associated costs remain as issues.

“Certainly there are a lot of people who have different life circumstances that require different living options,” said David Schless, American Seniors Housing Association president. “There’s a wide variety of different types of senior living options, but there’s not enough.”

Adding to the market

Watercrest at Shadow Creek Ranch will open in winter 2016, according to Marketing and Sales Director Brittany Jalomo. She described the senior apartment complex—which will be located at 11745 W. Broadway St., Pearland—as luxury retirement living, where a resident’s rent is adjusted based on the amenities they choose to utilize.

“We’re unique in comparison to what other senior living in the Houston area is offering,” she said. “We have customizable lifestyle options, and [residents] can use as many or as little of them as they want.”

Watercrest at Shadow Creek Ranch will include 214 apartments, eight villas and a clubhouse where hairstyling, manicures, pedicures and massages are available. Jalomo said shuttle service to places, such as the doctor’s office or grocery store, are included.

Banfield said he expects to break ground on his mixed-use development within three months. A majority of the property—11 of 13 acres—will become a 108-unit, 55-and-older, independent living facility called The Beldon. Among the features are a 25-seat theater, exercise room, banquet space, therapy room, outdoor pavilion, resort-style pools and putting greens.

High demand spurs local senior housing projectsHigh demand spurs local senior housing projects
“We’re loading it up with all that stuff,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice place for retired folks to live.”

The remaining land will be developed into twin 11,000-square-foot buildings for retail or dining to complement the apartments, Banfield said. The commercial property will be constructed after the complex, which will take about 12-15 months to complete.

The development will be less than a mile from The Bedford Apartments, another Banfield Properties senior living facility. The company also owns Village Square Apartments in Friendswood, which was converted to a senior complex about 20 years ago, Banfield said.

“The Bedford has been very successful for us,” he said. “It’s 100 percent occupied with a one-year waiting list.”

Senior housing obstacles

Gail Harmon, Texas Assisted Living Association president and CEO, said the state has a different challenge compared to the rest of the U.S.

“I don’t think that senior housing is scarce in Texas,” Harmon said. “I think the issue is affordability, particularly if you are looking at assisted living.”

High demand spurs local senior housing projectsHigh demand spurs local senior housing projects
Although Harmon said high-end facilities offer beautiful properties and amenities, the price of these complexes limit some seniors’ choices.

“They’re fantastic options for senior care for everybody who can afford them, and they are filling a gap in the market,” she said. “Unfortunately, not everybody can afford what most people would term a ‘luxury’ arrangement like that. That’s where Texas is going to have an issue going forward.”

Seniors living on Social Security face particular hardships. Those who receive $1,200-$1,500 per month in Social Security cannot afford a lot of the available housing options, Harmon said.

“That’s something that the industry is starting to grapple with: how we can bring prices down a bit and make it more affordable for more people,” Harmon said.

TALA continues to work with national organizations to address problems with senior housing affordability and availability. Medicaid plays a bigger role in addressing these challenges in other states, Harmon said, but she does not expect Texas to expand the program anytime soon.

Senior housing officials also expect a lack of retirement saving plans to further complicate the process. Harmon said problems will continue as more seniors retire without sufficient savings.

“When people haven’t saved and they don’t have the resources, it makes an already tough problem even tougher,” she said. “I don’t see that changing anytime soon because the group that’s approaching retirement age now is, unfortunately, the group that may not have enough money going into retirement. It’s a complicated issue on many fronts, and I don’t think anybody has all the answers yet.”