Senior Living Development News, October 9, 2014 - Experienced providers get into the assisted living/memory care development market
October 9, 2014:
Your biweekly update on people, places, projects, plus...
Newcomer Avanti Senior Living is set to open its first two senior living communities in 2015, with one in Cypress, Texas and the other in The Woodlands, Texas. These two communities, both in the Houston metro area, are the first to come in Avanti’s development pipeline of seven total properties (so far) in Texas and Louisiana. While other developers out there certainly have more properties coming down the pike than this newcomer (especially in Texas), Avanti still stands out among its competitors. Co-founders Tim Hekker (who is also the CEO) and Lori Alford (COO) combined bring over 50 years of experience in the operating world of senior care and a unique perspective to the development of their communities. From a design, technological and staffing standpoint, the Avanti community shows how all of the years of experience from its founders have culminated in a truly quality, modern place to live.
Each Avanti community has between 90-120 units, which the founders believe is the threshold for both quality care and efficient operating expenses. Of course, that size will depend on the piece of land the community sits on and the market need, but both Avanti at Towne Lake in Cypress, Texas and Avanti at Vision Park in The Woodlands, Texas will have 90 units, comprised of 50 assisted living units and 40 memory care units. The two communities are located right in the backyard of Avanti, which is headquartered in The Woodlands. To fuel the development pipeline, Avanti turned to silent equity partners. Avanti also worked with a development partner that the founders were familiar with, Cypressbrook Company, but Avanti will be the sole owner and operator of the communities. The two communities currently under construction will be 76,000 square feet, and cost about $18 million ($200,000 per unit or $237 per square foot). Avanti’s communities are a breath of fresh air in several ways:
Senior Care Collaborators:
A constant theme in Avanti’s development strategy is that in every step of the process, the company only works with senior care experts. Architectural firm PRDG, interior designer StudioSIX5, builder Oak Brook, low-voltage consultant Tazergy, and development partner Cypressbrook Company all solely concentrate on senior housing and offer expertise to Avanti in each phase of development. Also, in most cases, Alford and Hekker at Avanti have worked with these businesses at one point in the past.
A Slow and Steady Development Pipeline:
What is refreshing about Avanti’s development pipeline is that though they are building in an increasingly overcrowded Texas senior living market, their pace of development is not alarming. In speaking to Alford, she stressed the point that Avanti is not growing for growth’s sake. Alford says that the way Avanti determines where to build “is a blend of art and science. From a desk top review looking at demographics and what existing product is already there to boots on the ground of touring the product and understanding the market’s culture. For Texas we live here and have operated in Texas for years so we know the holes and areas that our product will thrive in.” So far, this slower, deliberate approach seems true, as the company only has seven communities either under construction or in development (peanuts when compared to Mainstreet Properties Group’s 45-community pipeline).
Currently, Avanti is building communities in Cypress, Texas and The Woodlands, Texas, with five more developments set to break ground in late 2014 or early 2015: two in Texas (Flower Mound and Stone Oak (San Antonio) and three in Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Covington and Lafayette). We will have to watch how the Houston MSA properties will fill up, due to the much ballyhooed construction boom there, but Avanti has already attracted significant interest in local media, and presales are beating expectations. No word yet on where they are looking next, but we do know Florida is a target state.
Avanti was designed to be modern, soothing, warm and practical. Avanti brought in architectural firm PRDG and interior designers StudioSIX5 to try to offer the best community out there. According to Alford, Avanti’s units are larger compared to the competition, with plenty of storage. Attempting to better integrate health care with senior living, Avanti boasts a telehealth room as well as its own medical exam room. The community also features an exercise room with a ballet bar, around which Avanti designed a whole program to build strength and balance. Five different courtyards ensure there is easy access to the outdoors for residents. Making sure to cater to the staff’s needs, as they are the most important part of a resident’s care, Avanti included in their design a team lounge with Google-esque bean bags and charging stations. The lounge is also not just hidden away in the rear of the building, but rather placed right next to the front business office.
Avanti features many modern technological solutions that aim at improving care, lifestyles and accountability. Compared with the rest of the market, Alford says that when it comes to technology “we have everything our competitors have, but a bit more.” The buildings will have special lighting designed to mimic the lighting you would see throughout the day, which helps residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia with their orientation. Each resident will receive their own specially-designed tablet device. Not satisfied with other tablet systems out there, Avanti went through focus groups with seniors and worked with computer programmers to design their own. It hasn’t been revealed yet, but will feature both social media access and games. Like many other “modern” communities today, Avanti has EHRs, RFID door locks, point-of-care devices for staff and extra monitoring for memory care residents. But, Avanti also brought in a low-voltage consultant, Tazergy, to oversee all technology and make sure it is running smoothly, a step often not taken by senior care providers. And since technology is always changing, Alford says that Avanti is constantly looking for bigger and better innovations. All in, Alford says that Avanti spends roughly $600,000 to $700,000 on technology alone for each community.
But while technology and the building design are important, what matters most are the people working there. At Avanti, the founders want to make sure that they have the right people in place all the way up to the CEO. “We’re probably a little picky,” when it comes to finding the right staff, says Alford. Every employee is trained “the Avanti-way,” so that, for example, if a resident asks a lower level employee for something to make them more comfortable, that employee can help the resident right away without needing permission first. Quality of care and the residents’ experience are the most important things...........Want to read more news? Click here for a free trial to The SeniorCare Investor and download the current issue today
Autumn Leaves has been getting a lot of press recently, from us and other news sources, as they seem to break ground on a new community every other week or so. On September 9, The LaSalle Group announced that Autumn Leaves of Stockbridge, Georgia was set to open in October (just outside of Atlanta). This announcement comes on the heels of one of their memory care communities opening recently in San Antonio (called Stone Oak), and another San Antonio Autumn Leaves community breaking ground on September 17, to be called Autumn Leaves of Westover Hills. The community in Stockbridge will be the company’s third in the Atlanta metro area (having locations in Sugarloaf and Towne Lake as well), but The LaSalle Group doesn’t plan on stopping in Atlanta either. According to Kay Adkins, Director of Development for The LaSalle Group, “[they] continue to look for additional locations and opportunities in the Atlanta MSA.”
Each Autumn Leaves community is typically built with 54 memory care units, and Adkins says this number has evolved over the years to find the best staffing ratio while providing the best service possible to its residents. The total development cost for Stockbridge is approximately $9.5 million ($175,926 per unit or $346 per square foot), and is financed by a regional bank. According to Adkins, “it will take around a year or so to fill the building,” since memory care is needs-based. But its rates are competitive with market rates.
Nicole Gray, Director of Design for The LaSalle Group, explained the design of the building and its tailoring to those in need of memory care. To create a better environment for its residents, Autumn Leaves uses the latest Alzheimer’s research to design its communities. Each of the four corridors in the building has a theme with a corresponding color, which acts as a “sight stimulator [that] is beneficial to [its] residents” and “help[s] keep a sense of their surroundings at all times,” according to Gray. Autumn Leaves also used “flooring transitions” to reduce the risk of trip hazards. Soothing sounds of nature play in the spa which “help calm [the] residents before they transition to bathing.” Among other design features, Autumn Leaves communities also have the state-of-the-art Vigil System, a motion sensor program in each resident’s private room that subtly alerts staff, if needed, and provides metrics to better show and improve the resident’s comfort level.
Expect to hear more from Autumn Leaves...............Want to read more news? Click here for a free trial to The SeniorCare Investor and download the current issue today
We’d like to hear from you!
Please send your development news to us at:
To advertise in Senior Living Development News, contact us at: