Perennials, Not Millennials: How The Older Set Is Remaking Luxury Living
Only 2.8% of new property being built in the UK focuses on later living, but that is about to change. The over-65 set is emerging as a driver of opulent, high-quality multifamily developments in city centres.
Battersea Place, developed by Lifecare Residences, opened in spring 2016 and billed itself as London’s first luxury retirement village. The development on the margin of Battersea Park features 109 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and penthouses. It is reminiscent of a luxury hotel with private chauffeurs and an executive chef with Michelin-starred experience overseeing the restaurant. The slate of support services, including a 24-hour emergency call system, helps residents maintain their independence.
LifeCare Residences CEO Nigel Sibley said Battersea Place has created a new benchmark in retirement living for the capital.
“Marrying together high-quality London homes with extensive facilities and hands-on care ensures that our residents will be richly rewarded in their retirement, enjoying every day under our care as we help to maintain their independence for as long as possible,” Sibley said.
The potential in this sector is enormous. Investec structured property specialist Simon Brooks said the UK population is aging, and much of the elderly’s wealth is locked up in their homes.
“We stay retired longer, but our homes don’t change as we do,” Brooks said.
Retirees basically have two options when they reach the point they need help. They can bring in domestic care, but they still have the home to maintain, which can be a hassle. Many are not bringing in strong income and do not fully understand the cost of high-quality care. Many people have lived very affluent lives, but when they see how quickly their asset's value can be extinguished, it puts them off moving.
The second option is to move to a care home, with all the negative connotations that brings. Such a place might be perfectly adequate for healthcare needs, but these communities often do not address social needs. They are typically out of town centres and far from transport so residents need to take the bus to the theatre, for instance. Residents are moved away from friends and family and the life they had known for years. It is suboptimal, Brooks said.
But the model is changing. Projects like Auriens, a luxury development in Chelsea, are shifting the emphasis from a relaxing — and rather dull — life in the countryside to an active and urban life close to social and cultural ties. These city-focused developments enable residents to continue the life they have always had, just with more support, Brooks said.
Auriens targets the very high-end consumer for whom age really is just a number, Auriens founder Johnny Sandleson said. Boasting interior design by Richmond International (which designed the Langham London and the Beaumont Hotel), every detail has been refined for the over-65s. Investec, a South African private equity firm, has backed the project to the tune of £55M.
Most retirees want to downsize but keep the space, Brooks said. That usually means reducing the number of bedrooms. They want spacious common areas, and possibly a guest bedroom for family visits, or at least accommodation on-site or nearby.
Auriens aims to fill that gap. The apartments are between 800 and 2K SF and start at £3M. Amenities include a health club, cinema and on-site treatment rooms. Auriens has forged a partnership with a private nursing group that has treated the royal family, and if that is not enough, the Royal Brompton hospital, which is the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK, is right next door.
Care has gone into every detail of the design, Brooks said. The doorways are wide enough to get wheelchairs through. There are discreet panels that open to secret treatment rooms. There are motion sensors and non-slip surfaces and a 24-hour concierge service, and it is right in the centre of London — all while avoiding the fusty environment so prevalent in many care homes.
“The apartments look like a Claridge's hotel room,” Brooks said.