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Vegetarian Dishes And Indian Culture Inspired New Senior Living Facility In Houston

A ShantiNiketan entrance in central Florida

A senior housing property in Houston being geared toward the Indian community may be a harbinger of more specialty communities to come.

Houston has a greater need for niche senior living facilities than what is being delivered, said Iggy Ignatius, the founder and chairman of ShantiNiketan International Corp., a Florida-based developer of Indian-focused active adult communities. 

“I would expect such culturally sensitive communities would be welcomed by the immigrants from such countries where the food and religion are way different from the American style,” he said. “These communities also offer an alternative to those immigrants who otherwise their only option was going back to their countries after their retirement.”

Developers in Houston are designing communities that cater to the evolving needs of their clients. ShantiNiketan Houston, in planning now in Sugar Land, and the Asian-focused The Pines at Bellaire, which broke ground in June, are two senior living facilities that target specific cultures. 

ShantiNiketan Houston will be the company's first site in Texas; it has three locations in central Florida. The $40M project will feature 120 single-level homes and offer one-, two- and three-bedroom units from 600 to 2,100 SF.

The homes will be grouped together and face each other with landscaping and walkways in between. A road will run behind the homes to the individual garages. Like previous communities, it will look like a series of close-knit communities with a centralized clubhouse.

The community will also feature a vegetarian kitchen, a non-vegetarian kitchen and a prayer room, offer home cleaning services and display an appreciation of Indian culture and religious beliefs through programming and services.

“Houston is one of the first settlement zones for Indian professionals coming to the U.S.,” ShantiNiketan International Corp. CEO Vino Pajanor said. “Therefore, Houston is one of the priority areas.”  

The developer is in the final stages of negotiations on a parcel of about 20 acres near Sugar Land but has already sold multiple units and reserved a few for rent. The developer expects to break ground in the first half of 2019 and wrap up construction in 2022.

While the ShantiNiketan communities are open to anyone 55 years old and older, 80% of the residents are retired doctors and engineers of Indian origin. The vision behind the company is to create an environment that will remind residents of their homeland.

Many of the residents would prefer to move back to India, but can’t for a number of reasons, including that their children and grandchildren live in the U.S. or they lost ties with their families back in India, Pajanor said. 

ShantiNiketan International Corp. CEO Vino Pajanor and founder and Chairman Iggy Ignatius

“Since these people were born in their own country and were brought up in that culture, they tend to yearn for that in their old age,” Ignatius said.  

All of ShantiNiketan's projects are crowdfunded with the capital needed obtained from the early buyers, who will share in the profits. So far, the group has secured enough funding to start construction in Houston. After completion, if there is still a demand for more homes, Ignatius will look to acquire additional land for a subsequent community.

Senior housing appealing to a specific ethnic group is popping up around town. The Pines at Bellaire, a 143-unit, three-story project near Chinatown, will offer Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, bilingual staff and an outdoor garden.

Other niche senior housing being built around the country caters to LGBT groups or to formerly homeless people.

Houston’s diverse population and strong international business presence within the oil industry and beyond support the need for more culturally niche senior living communities, Colliers International Vice President Elena Bakina said. She will speak at Bisnow's senior housing event Sept. 27. 

“Houston is the energy capital of the world,” Bakina said. “It brings people from all of the world. A lot of those families are staying and their parents are aging here. They will eventually look for senior care facilities." 

Learn more about senior housing developments in Houston at the Bisnow Houston Silver Tsunami event on Sept. 27.