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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 26, 2015 3 years ago

Memory lane

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Developers are building facilities for the coming wave of baby boomers with Alzheimer's and other dementia. These are not your parents' nursing homes.
by: Jean Gruss Contributing Writer

Step into the Villa at Terracina Grand in Naples and you might think you're inside a luxury hotel.

An indoor garden with tall green plants, large windows that allow natural light, painted murals and a lushly landscaped garden courtyard might give you a sense you're on a holiday visit. At 61,000 square feet, the $23 million building is slightly larger than a football field.

But you may be surprised to find out that the Villa is a secure facility designed to house 60 people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Call it the next frontier in memory care: luxury apartments where residents enjoy round-the-clock care and activities designed to stimulate their minds in a Ritz-Carlton-like atmosphere.

“What we wanted to do there is to be a center for innovation,” says John Goodman, chairman of The Goodman Group, a Chaska, Minn.-based developer of senior housing that owns and operates 16 memory-care facilities around the country among the senior-housing communities it operates in eight states totaling 4,200 residents.

The Naples facility may become a model for future memory care centers. We're going to need them: some estimates say the number of people with dementia will triple to 16 million by 2050. “We really wanted to come to the point where we could study these environments,” Goodman says.

While Goodman declines to share financials of his privately held company, he says he can deliver the memory care service in Naples profitably for $5,500 to $6,500 a month, even with a low 6-to-1 staff-patient ratio and nearly $400,000 capital expense per room.

“We're privately held,” Goodman says. “Just on the money it wouldn't stand up very well. This is something I do because I love doing it.”

But Goodman already has a head start in Naples. Terracina's existing 137 assisted-living units are full, and there's a waiting list for the 35 memory care units built in 2001. “Starting from scratch would be very, very expensive,” Goodman acknowledges, noting his company has 50% equity in Terracina.

Goodman says the elaborate facilities in Naples won't be exactly replicated elsewhere, though he's looking at other undisclosed sites in Florida for additional development opportunities.
“Each property calls for its own design,” he says. “We don't take the same building and build it twice.”

However, Goodman plans to use the Naples facility as a place where it can develop new innovative programs. For example, The Villa offers a Montessori program designed for adults with cognitive and physical disabilities and another program with the Music & Memory nonprofit to provide a therapeutic music program to help residents tap memories.

There's also a nature immersion room at The Villa, which is equipped with a 110-inch high definition video screen with multidimensional sound speakers and aromatherapy. The video features nature scenes at key moments of the day, such as an early morning sunrise by the ocean in the mornings, mid-day in a fruit grove and sunset among the pine trees.

“A lot of people today think this is just real estate,” Goodman says. “It's got to have a larger purpose than just a piece of dirt and a building.”

This story was updated to reflect correct figures for the senior-housing communities The Goodman Group operates.

Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss

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