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Senior living developers describe a saturated market

The Vineyard at Sycamore Place senior housing project in Caldwell used low-income housing tax credits.  The project was built by Greg Urrutia of New Beginnings Housing. Photo courtesy of New Beginnings.

Developers of senior housing describe a saturated market in much of the Treasure Valley.

Jeremy Garner, president of Veranda Senior Living, said several new providers – many without experience – have entered the local market to serve the seniors expected to need assisted-living care in the next three to five years.

Garner said the assisted living inventory has expanded beyond the need sometime in the last few months, especially between downtown Boise and  west of Nampa.

“I’m seeing a lot of these places that are popping up, even out in Nampa,” said Garner, whose company runs a 73-unit facility in Meridian, Veranda Senior Living at Paramount. “Some of the recent feasibility studies that we have done have shown an overabundance of beds in some of these western Treasure Valley areas.”

Garner’s company is poised to open a new, 80-bed assisted living facility in the coming winter, to be called Veranda Senior Living at Barber Station. Garner considers it fortunate that the facility will be located in southeast Boise, which he believes represents a “pocket” in which there’s still room for growth in assisted living, given that
families typically prefer to live within a few miles of their loved ones.

Mike Sharp, executive vice president of Edgewood Health Care, said his company has opened two Treasure Valley facilities in the past five years – one in Fruitland and another in Eagle.  Sharp said Edgewood also offers townhomes near its assisted living centers, enabling seniors to live independently with access to meals and assistance. The arrangement also eases the transition when it’s time for seniors to move into assisted living, Sharp said.

Sharp said business is booming for builders specializing in independent living housing for seniors.

“Every time I drive somewhere I see a new 55-and-older development,” Sharp said.

Sharp believes another long-term growth area is memory care, a specialized area of care within assisted living centers for senior citizens struggling with memory loss and dementia. But he concurs the assisted living market has become saturated in most of Treasure Valley, though he knows of about six projects in the works that will
provide new assisted living and memory care.

“As far as Meridian and Eagle, there’s a lot of (assisted living) vacancy right now,” Sharp said.

Sharp said his company is adding a few new units in Fruitland, but in general, Edgewood will now be “sitting back and seeing what happens.”

The Vineyard at Eagle Promenade in northwest Boise includes one- and two-bedroom apartments for people who are 55 and older.  Photo courtesy of the Vineyard at Eagle Promenade.

“There’s a number of people building, and I think the saturation of the market is a concern for us at this point,” Sharp said.

Greg Urrutia still sees ample room for growth in his category of mixed-income apartments providing independent living for tenants who are 55 and older. Urrutia, owner of New Beginnings Housing, has four housing communities in the Treasure Valley. His fifth development, which will include 30 units in downtown Caldwell, is scheduled to open July 1, and he recently broke ground on 50 units in Nampa.

Urrutia takes advantage of federal tax credits for construction of affordable housing, allowing him to tie his rental rates to income. His rents range from 10 to 30 percent below market value.

“The demand is very strong (for independent-living senior housing). There’s a lot of unmet demand right now, for both market-rate and affordable units,” Urrutia said.

In eastern Idaho, Ken Pape, director of operations with Chubbuck-based Portneuf Development, sees unmet demand for the full gamut of senior housing options. Pape is helping to develop north Pocatello’s planned Northgate Project, which will include a mixture of housing types, commercial space, a high-tech industrial park and a medical campus.

In early July, he’ll break ground on a gated community, providing 52 single-family homes for residents 55 and older who are capable of living independently. According to his market research, Bannock County has more than 8,000 people in the target age group who want to move into senior housing. His gated community’s Craftsman-style homes will sell for at least $289,000 and include a minimum of 1,300 square feet of space.

Pape explained the development will be ideal for a population of seniors who enjoy traveling and want to make certain their homes are secure and monitored while they’re away. The gated community will limit break-ins, crews will tend to lawns and maintenance and the homes will all use smart technology.

“From appliances to garage doors and cameras, everything you can imagine is run off your smart phone,” Pape said. “If you go the grocery store and you realize you don’t know how much milk you’ve got, you can literally look into your fridge with a camera. Or if you’re coming back with a pizza, you can turn your oven on before you get
home.”

Early next year, Pape will also break ground on about 40 cottages and an assisted living center with about 50 units. The cottages will be adjacent to the assisted living facility to provide meals and assistance to seniors to help them continue living independently longer.

Pape planned his senior housing to be in close proximity to multifamily units, which will cater to the wants of millennials.

“I’m trying to integrate everybody to mingle with each other and learn from each other,” Pape said.

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