“In general, what we feel is that technology is going to rapidly allow people to age in place and not have to end up going to an assisted living, which as we know is getting more and more medically acute,” Lloyd Jones Chairman and CEO Chris Finlay told Senior Housing News.
Lloyd Jones is aiming to create middle-market, 55-plus age-restricted properties with these trends in mind.
“We’re not looking to do super high-end, we’re looking to do it as cost effectively as possible and do it where we provide services on an a la carte basis through relationships with food vendors, health care agencies, transportation and other services that these folks will need and use,” Finlay said.
The Aviva 55 model
Lloyd Jones is not a total newcomer to the senior living sector. The firm first developed an independent living/assisted living building in New Hampshire about 20 years ago. Currently, Lloyd Jones owns between more than 700 age-restricted units with no additional services, all located in Florida.
The idea for Aviva 55 came, in part, from observing the dynamics at these current 55-plus properties.
“We see how people really want to stay there and age in place,” Finlay said. “In one property, in Jacksonville, we have a lady who is 103 years old. She is completely independent. [The residents] make friends with their neighbors and they’re taking care of this lady … They become like little mini-families.”
For Aviva 55, the idea is that by layering on some services, Lloyd Jones can further facilitate aging in place in a middle-market product that should appeal to aging boomers who want to maintain their independence for as long as possible.
The plan is for Aviva 55 buildings to have a health and wellness coordinator and an activities coordinator on staff, to facilitate socialization and residents’ wellbeing. Lloyd Jones also intends to forge partnerships with local organizations to provide support services on an as-needed basis.
Already, older adults are increasingly embracing the on-demand economy to meet needs such as grocery delivery and transportation. To support this, Aviva 55 buildings will have robust internet infrastructure, Finlay said. Strong WiFi will also enable health care-related technology that might be put in common areas.
For example, Finlay is interested in facilitating telehealth by creating spaces equipped with tech for virtual doctor visits. It’s possible these spaces could also be used for onsite exams or treatment through partnerships with area providers.
From a physical plant perspective, expect Aviva 55 buildings to be three to four stories, with surface or podium parking, and between 100 and 200 units. It’s a 100% rental model, and Finlay is estimating development costs of about $250,000 per unit.
“You can provide a very nice amenity package and common area packages without getting crazy,” he said. “Most of what I see is over the top … We’re going to try to be as efficient as possible in the design … we’ll try to keep the interiors, while very nice, not ridiculous.”
In multifamily, Lloyd Jones has carved out a niche in workforce housing, and the firm plans to target a similar demographic with Aviva 55. This strategy also should insulate the properties from oversupply pressures currently hitting assisted living and more high-end independent living communities, Finlay said.
“I think there’s certainly some softness and a lot of competition in the high end space, in independent living and assisted living,” he said. “I think in most cases … when you start charging $7,000, $8,000, $10,000 a month, that’s a very small demographic that can afford that. Those properties are meeting with some resistance.”
Lloyd Jones currently has three Aviva 55 projects on the books, and would like to eventually be developing 10 or more a year, Finlay said.
“We’ve got a big team out looking for sites,” he said. “We’re really hoping to scale this part of our business pretty rapidly.”
Last December, the firm closed on a deal to build a 150-unit building in Sunrise, west of Fort Lauderdale. The other projects are in Port St. Lucie and Naples. In Port St. Lucie, Finlay hopes to break ground before the end of the second quarter of this year, and in Naples, the timeline is to start development on the site within 6 months.
Lloyd Jones is also exploring acquisitions of existing independent living or assisted living buildings, to scale them back to the “IL-light” model of Aviva 55. Going the other way — acquiring a multifamily building and layering on services — is more complex from a regulatory perspective. In some cases, it could involve emptying the building of residents for 90 days before reopening as an age-restricted property, Finlay said.
Lloyd Jones has a number of capital partners for Aviva 55 projets, Finlay said, although he declined to disclose their names.
“There’s a ton of capital going after this space right now, because I think everybody realizes that the demographics are certainly overwhelming, and there’s a lot of need,” he said, adding that “capital is not a concern” in terms of scaling up Aviva 55.
Going forward, Lloyd Jones is looking to expand the Aviva 55 footprint beyond Florida. Texas is the next state being targeted, followed by Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Finlay has demonstrated good timing not only in his real estate career but prior to that. He was a pilot for Eastern Airlines for 15 years but took early retirement and got out of that company two years before it went bankrupt in 1989. Finlay describes that as “fortuitous timing”; it’s possible that the timing is also fortuitous for Lloyd Jones to be early mover in this emerging independent living-light product, if demand and competition ramp up as Finlay anticipates.
“I think there’s going to be a big move to this asset class,” he said.