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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 4 years ago

Boom-time Build

The steady stream of retirees coming to Florida, soon to be more of a gushing, requires an enhanced approach to senior living development.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributing Writer

Baby boomers will be retiring in droves over the next decade and beyond. When they decide they want to spend their golden years in the Florida sun, Village on the Isle wants to be ready.

To make sure that happens, the 35-year-old nonprofit continuing-care retirement community in Venice, in south Sarasota County, is in the early stages of a 10-year, $100 million expansion of its 16-acre campus.

“We have to get ready for the next generation of seniors,” says Kristen Myers, sales and marketing director for Village on the Isle. “And it's definitely a different generation. They want a lot more choices and much more space, and they have certain amenities they'd expect to be standard. They're not afraid to leave their houses, but they're going to have higher expectations of what that's going to look and feel like.”

Village on the Isle began a $13 million renovation of Mark Manor, its assisted-living space, about a year ago. Going floor by floor, it's completely redoing the entire building, modernizing and enlarging the apartments and creating communal living and dining areas on each floor.

“The concept is changing in the way we deliver our services, and we're going to what is called a household model,” says Myers. “It's much more residential in look, feel and programming and is much more centered on the individual.”

That project includes a brand-new memory-support floor, something the community has never offered before. When the renovation is completed in mid-2019, there will be 64 apartments available for Village on the Isle residents who need to transition from independent to assisted living.

In early January, Village on the Isle broke ground on the next phases of the expansion, both of which are also expected to be completed in mid-2019. The community is building a new skilled-nursing facility, where all 64 rooms are private. Its current nursing facility, Luke Haven, has a mix of private and shared rooms.

The new $33.7 million complex will have underbuilding parking and an expanded physical therapy department. One floor will be used for post-acute rehabilitative services, and the other will be for long-term care. Short-term services will be available to both Village on the Isle residents and people who live elsewhere. “That makes money and revenue for the community, and the residents understand that benefit,” says Myers.

Also underway are the Emerald Terraces, a $36.6 million project. The two new independent-living buildings will each house 23 one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 1,250 to 1,620 square feet. With prices from $281,000 to about $500,000, the stylish new residences — most of which will be larger than other independent-living options currently available on site — are already 93% reserved. The community started to spread the word about the project in March 2016, and released pricing information last July. By October, the community was nearly 80% reserved. “It was very reaffirming to know that there was a market desire for a newer product,” says Myers.

Common areas and residences in existing buildings are also being modernized and upgraded in stages. Future phases of the expansion (think 2020 and beyond) include tearing down Luke Haven for something like a new community space that could house a dining venue and indoor pool.

RLPS Architects, a firm with experience in senior-living communities nationwide, created Village on the Isle's expansion plan. The organization is financing the projects through the sale of low-interest bonds issued through the Sarasota County Health Facilities Authority, which will be paid off by the entrance fees paid by new residents.

The expansion required some work with the city of Venice to hash out land use and design standard changes, in addition to a land swap with a neighboring church. (Village on the Isle is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church.) Venice Airport is leasing the community a parcel of land for employee parking, and another nearby church is leasing a parking lot for residents to use during construction.

“Our residents have been very supportive and understanding of the need for change,” says Myers. “They're excited about what's to come for the future of this community.”

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