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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 4 months ago

Senior living complex hones in on luxury with $60 million project

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Active senior living community raises the stakes in the effort to stay ahead of trends — and discerning residents.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributor

The active adults of today (and tomorrow) definitely aren’t the same as the senior citizens of yesterday. That’s why south Fort Myers senior-living community Cypress Cove is building a new expansion to its campus designed for retirees who will make up the next phase of its customer base.

The Oaks at Cypress Cove will include 82 luxury villas and apartments on 12 acres within Cypress Cove’s 48-acre campus. The $60 million project is the result of a lengthy research and planning process looking at how best to use that available space. It also represents a new stage in the ongoing battle to lure the silver generation out of their homes and into amenity-rich facilities.

A community always needs to be listening and changing. You have to be willing to listen and offer what people desire if you expect to stay relevant.’ Nicole Muller, Cypress Living

“We have a great product currently at Cypress Cove, but we wanted to take the opportunity to raise the bar again for senior living in Southwest Florida,” says Troy Churchill, president and CEO of Cypress Living, the nonprofit parent that oversees the management of Cypress Cove. “There are a lot of new players and growth in the senior living space and a lot of disruption occurring today. I think our community was very traditional for a long time, and this is getting us out of our comfort zone by building this new neighborhood.”

Cypress Living/Cypress Cove had $39.9 million in revenue in 2017, the latest data available on public IRS documents. It has some $147 million in assets, records show.

Working with consulting and research firms along with national experts in senior living helped Cypress Cove define the kind of product the next wave of retirees will be looking for. As a result, the apartments and villas at the Oaks at Cypress Cove will feature elements like increased square footage, open-concept floor plans and lanais with a minimum of two views. A variety of high-end finishes will be available for things like countertops and cabinetry.

“Years ago it might have been acceptable to offer an apartment that was fairly standard, but now we’re seeing a great deal of customization,” says Nicole Muller, vice president of marketing and sales for Cypress Living. “The expectations around being able to have those choices is certainly a difference today.”

To better help future residents age in place, the new villas and apartments will also be outfitted with smart home technology being tested and evaluated at Cypress Cove. That includes potential options like a smart thermostat, voice-enabled technology to help residents get information and schedule appointments, sensor technology for safety and monitoring and even technology that detect falls. “We’re really seeing some very innovative ideas and testing them out to see what will be the best fits in this new neighborhood,” Muller says.

Nicole Muller, vice president of marketing and sales for Cypress Living.

Seniors these days continue to want amenities that promote wellness and fitness as well. The Oaks at Cypress Cove will include a fitness center plus an outdoor pool, something current Cypress Cove residents have been asking for. (There’s already an indoor pool on campus.) Greenways will connect the Oaks to the main Cypress Cove campus, where all the amenities there will also be available to Oaks residents.

Interest in the Oaks has been strong since its sales center opened at the end of January, with five units already reserved. Entry prices start around the mid-$400,000s, with a variety of contract options to choose from. Construction isn’t expected to start until the neighborhood hits about 70% sold, which Muller says is industry norm for senior living communities. The goal is for the Oaks to open to residents by the end of 2022.

The new neighborhood is also part of the overall repositioning plan the community recently enacted that included an update of its brand and logo. Cypress Living now serves as the umbrella organization that encompasses Cypress Cove and the Cypress at Home health care services. Updates were made at the main Cypress Cove campus that included additions like a new arts studio. “We looked at what are some of the additional amenities that might be missing for the new consumers coming in the door not only today but also tomorrow,” says Churchill, a former administrator at Lee Health appointed to run Cypress Living in January 2019.

A premium on innovations is key for senior-living communities when it comes to serving the approximately 73 million baby boomers in the country. The oldest boomers turn 74 this year, and they’ll all be 65 or older by 2030, according to U.S. Census bureau data. 

“They’re at our doorstep for sure, and they’re looking for something very different,” Muller says. “So a community always needs to be listening and changing. You have to be willing to listen and offer what people desire if you expect to stay relevant.”

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