Growing Demand for Continuing Care

Published: June 18, 2006


CLASSIC RESIDENCE BY HYATT, a Chicago-based company that builds and manages luxury senior housing in 11 states, has opened a sales center here for the first for-profit continuing-care retirement community in New York.

The 315-unit development, called Classic Residence by Hyatt at Briarcliff Manor, is being marketed to Westchester's rapidly growing 60-plus population, which is expected to increase by 45% from 2000 to 2030, to 243,518, according to the Westchester County Department of Planning.  The county's population as a whole is projected to increase by only 6.3% in that time.

Residents of the new $350 million community, which will sit on 59 acres overlooking the Hudson River, will pay a one-time entrance fee of $500,000 to $1.6 million, depending on the size of the unit purchased; 90% of the initial investment is refunded to the resident if he or she moves out of the community or to the estate upon death.

In addition, residents, who must be 62 or older, will pay $4,300 or more monthly for food, amenities and other services.  In the case of couples, there is an additional fee of $1,600 for the second person.

"Most people will use the equity on their homes for this," explained Randal J. Richardson, president of Classic Residence by Hyatt, which is privately held.

The median sales price of a single-family house in Westchester last year was $675,000, according to the County Board of Realtors, with 1,396 single-family homes selling for $1 million or more.

Mr. Richardson said there were already more than 100 names on a waiting list for the retirement units. The Planning Department estimates that 56,555 households in the county, or 16.8% of the total, have annual incomes of $150,000 or higher.

Demand among affluent older people for high-end retirement communities is increasing not only in Westchester, but nationally as well, said Margaret Wylde, president and chief executive of ProMatura Group, a research company in Oxford, Miss., that focuses on older consumers.

But not all continuing-care developments are as costly as the one planned for Briarcliff Manor, said John Migliaccio of White Plains, president of the American Institute of Financial Gerontology, an organization of financial planners who specialize in advising older people.

For example, at Westchester Meadows in Valhalla, a nonprofit continuing-care development with 120 apartments, 10 units for enriched housing and 20 skilled nursing beds, the entrance fees are $360,000 to $750,000, depending on the size of the apartment; that fee is 65% refundable.  There is an additional charge of $40,000 for "life care insurance," and a monthly fee for food and amenities of $3,800 to $5,900.  For a second person, the upfront cost is $40,000, and the monthly fee is $1,653.

Whether they are marketed to high- or middle-income consumers, continuing-care communities have become a popular alternative for retirees, many of whom can look forward to longer lives than their parents enjoyed, Mr. Migliaccio said.  "Residents are assured of a place to live and they have peace of mind, because the cost of many future services are already covered."

He also noted that builders of senior housing had turned their attention from places like Florida and Arizona to the Northeast, because more people are opting to stay close to home to maintain connections to their communities, adult children, grandchildren and friends.

The development in Briarcliff Manor is one of four new continuing-care developments that Classic Residence by Hyatt plans to open in the next three years.  The others are in Denver, Dallas and Scottsdale, Ariz., and the company is expanding an existing facility in La Jolla, Calif., Mr. Richardson said.

In all, Classic Residence by Hyatt company owns and operates 18 senior residence communities; 10 are rental projects and eight are continuing care communities.

In Westchester two years ago, Classic Residence by Hyatt opened an 18-story senior residential building in Yonkers near the border with Riverdale in the Bronx.  A rental project, it has 310 apartments and offers independent and assisted living and Alzheimer's care. In Yonkers, rents start at $3,650 a month and include meals and a variety of services. It is about 92% leased, Mr. Richardson said.

The Briarcliff Manor community will have 288 apartments and 27 garden homes.  There are also 30 assisted-living units, 12 memory-support units and 28 skilled-nursing private suites. The project will also offer concierge service, educational and cultural programs and some housekeeping.

The interior décor will be distinctly upscale, said Nancy Retson, an assistant vice president for development at Classic Residence by Hyatt. She described the interiors as "not grandiose, but elegant," and said the fabrics used on windows and furniture in public rooms would be consistent with the taste of "people who are spending this kind of money."

Scheduled to be ready for occupancy in 2009, the community will be built on the grounds of the former Briarcliff Lodge, a summer resort that was frequented by political figures, business leaders and entertainers in the first three decades of the 20th century.  It later became the site of the Edgewood Park School for Girls, which closed in 1954.

King's College acquired the site in 1955, leaving after 39 years to relocate to the Empire State Building.  Tara Circle, an Irish culture organization, tried to purchase the land from King's College in 1992, but village officials voiced objections and the plan never proceeded.

The land changed hands a couple of times after that, and three years ago, after it was sold to a developer who had proposed a continuing-care community, the lodge was destroyed by fire. Hyatt acquired the property two years ago.

Until the early 1990's, New York law did not allow for continuing-care retirement communities, Mr. Migliaccio noted.  "For a very long time, it had restrictive legislation that made it difficult for developers to build assisted living or continuing-care retirement communities," he said. "They came under regulations for nursing homes.  Now, New York is more in line with other states, and we're seeing more planning for this kind of service-enriched housing."

All of the existing continuing-care communities in the state have been operated as nonprofit facilities. The Classic Residence in Briarcliff Manor would be the first for-profit community in New York, according to Joe DiMura, a spokesman for the Bureau of Continuing Care Initiatives in the State Department of Health, where the application is currently under review.

All local zoning requirements for the Briarcliff Manor project have already been met, said Michael S. Blau, the village manager.  He estimated that the completed retirement community would generate $5.1 million in annual taxes.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company



© 2015 American Institute of Financial Gerontology.
Registered Financial Gerontologist is a trademark of AIFG.