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Whether Luxury Or Affordable, Florida Is Building Senior For The Baby Boomer Wave

Riverwalk Residences of Las Olas looks like so many other sparkling luxury condos in South Florida. The 42-story project in downtown Fort Lauderdale will include five-star restaurants with renowned chefs, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a gourmet market on the ground floor.

But its 401 units will also include 152 assisted living residences and 57 memory care units as the developer, Ocean Land Investments, braces for an influx of aging baby boomers. 

Riverwalk Residences, a Fort Lauderdale project from Ocean Land Investments, will include physical therapy and memory care services.

"Baby boomers my age want less headaches in their life," Ocean Land Investments founder Jean Francois Roy said.

"Many of us have sold our homes and downsized into 3K SF condominiums and will continue to downsize as we age," Roy said. "We gain a peace of mind living in a building where we can just lock our door and leave for a week, knowing that our property will be maintained by an association."

Roy, whose $215M Riverwalk Residences is slated for a 2021 delivery, will be a featured speaker at Bisnow's upcoming event, the State of South Florida Healthcare and Senior Living, July 17 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale. 

Roy will be joined by other healthcare and senior living experts, including Nova Southeastern University Assistant Dean Farzanna Sherene Haffizulla, Housing Trust Group President and CEO Matthew Rieger and Baptist Health Vice President of Real Estate Kathleen Moorman. Jackson Health Systems CEO Carlos Migoya, who is largely credited with turning around Miami's beleaguered public hospital system, will be the keynote speaker.

An AARP survey found that while 87% of America's 78 million baby boomers want to stay in their homes upon retirement, 13% hope to move. Census data shows that retirees are migrating out of big cities to places with a low crime rate, quality healthcare and low property taxes. Some are giving up their paid-off homes and choosing to rent. 

"The trend I am seeing is that seniors want to 'cash their chips,' sell their home, and pay rent and enjoy their remaining years, rather then tying up their savings in their home or putting their savings into CCRC's," Roy said. "We have looked at what high-end senior communities all over the country are doing, and rentals are the new trend." 

Florida is a prime target for retirees, with The Villages in Sumter County attracting the most in the nation. Even areas like Tallahassee, a university town, are actively recruiting seniors. As people age, healthcare is a growing concern, and hospital systems and doctors are figuring out how to better serve the elderly. Trends are toward more outpatient facilities, telehealth services and consolidation among big healthcare chains. 

As an affordable housing developer, Matthew Rieger's Housing Trust Group is at the opposite end of the financial spectrum from Ocean Land Investment, but it, too, is adapting to demographic trends. HTG, which has built some 800 units for seniors, offers wellness services at its properties and seeks joint ventures with compatible partners. It has such an arrangement with Miami-Jewish Health Systems.

"We also provide additional services that cater to seniors, from shuttle services to computer classes, gardening and entertainment," Rieger said. 

At the event, he will discuss how to find opportunity in the affordable housing space, and touch on some of the biggest industry challenges. He said it can be a full-time job to educate policymakers and persuade them to commit funds to affordable housing projects. 

"Our continued efforts with lawmakers is helping push the envelope with the existing housing finance programs to increase capacity, such as creating a hard floor on the 4% low income housing tax credits linked to tax exempt bond financing," Rieger said.

Learn more on this crucial topic at Bisnow's senior housing and healthcare event July 17.