By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
When developer Investment Property Associates (IPA) began working with Retirement Community Specialists (RCS) three years ago, the companies began to see an opportunity to do more than complement each other’s market portfolios. Their goal grew to encompass creating new communities where multifamily and senior housing could function in mutually beneficial ways.
IPA had been a multifamily development and operation company since the mid-80s, according to partner Scott Brooks. In working with RCS to develop IPA’s initial foray into senior housing, Generations at Agritopia in Gilbert, the companies’ alignment in vision and values in housing communities and community in general that led to them ultimately merging.
The two initially got together in partnership to develop Generations at Agritopia in Gilbert. Since then IPA has opened Liv Ahwatukee, which will ultimately have 402 multifamily units, and will complement that development with the new Generations at Ahwatukee senior housing development as part of its vision to co-locate the two styles of housing developments.
Co-Located Developments Planned at 16th Street and Camelback Road
IPA also recently announced and began land acquisition and initial development efforts on 13 acres near 16th Street and Camelback (AZBEX, July 14). The initial plan there is to have a Liv and a Generations facility in close proximity to offer residents the benefits of multifamily and senior housing as distinct but co-located facilities.
“We’re hoping we’re about to expose a new, natural product where you can move into a campus and really stay 10, 15, 20 years and move through your various life changes and never really have to leave a certain block radius of the campus,” said IPA partner and RCS president Eric Johnston. “It’s not there yet, but we’re on our way.”
Building Community, Quality of Life
In addition to the goal of providing a community in which residents can have all their home and lifestyle needs fulfilled over the long term, the goal is also to provide enrichment, volunteer and interaction opportunities to residents of both communities wherever they’re living.
“We’re really aligned around this notion of being focused on the lives of the residents and making sure we’re doing everything we can to help fill those lives up with the things that they’re passionate about and things that give them fulfillment,” Johnston said. “Allowing them opportunities to engage with other residents and engage with the broader community, but also give back, serve, and give their time, their talents, their treasures and passions.”
Brooks used the Agritopia location next to a school as an example. He said when Generations at Agritopia was opened, the first units to sell were those facing the multipurpose sports field for the private school neighboring the property. “The residents were attracted to that energy of seeing those kids play out there, laugh, have fun, and to be able to know they could enjoy those sights and sounds.”
With the live/work/play focus on redevelopment projects in the 16th and Camelback area generally, Johnston sees the blending of multifamily and senior living in the area as a natural evolution. “We think if given the opportunity people will put two and two together and see the features and benefits of having a larger breadth and scope of age groups.”
Brooks said, “There’s a real transformation happening in that area. We’re excited to bring this concept and we really think it’s going to add to the vision and the growth that’s happening in that neighborhood.”
“I think what happens in some traditional senior living developer mindsets is they build them and put a fence around them and they think the seniors will want to seal themselves off from society,” Johnson said. “The coming generations are just the opposite.”
Timeline Remains in Development
IPA is in the process of finalizing land acquisitions for the 16th St. and Camelback development, and no design efforts have begun yet. The first step after all the transactions are closed will be moving ahead with development while accounting for the transitional needs of the current residential and office tenants at the sites.
Brooks said IPA will be working with the city for the necessary entitlements and then determine a final vision for what the two developments will look like and how conditions like market absorption will impact development timelines.