Michigan-based developer Dale Watchowski isn't necessarily daunted by competition from others in the region-wide senior housing industry boom, but it's something he thinks about — often.
Watchowski's firm, Southfield, Mich.-based Redico, through it's affiliate American House, has ambitious plans for the Gulf Coast. Those include American House Coconut Point, a 194-unit complex with independent living, assisted living and memory care units that opened in mid-August; American House Bonita Springs, where phases one and two, says Watchowski, are 90% occupied, and work on phase three is underway; American House Fort Myers, in the development stage; and American House Zephyrhills, an acquisition and renovation of another facility in Pasco County. American House Coconut Point is the firm's 51st senior living community nationwide.
While Watchowski chats up his company's expansion, he's cognizant of market saturation. “The challenge is really competition,” Watchowski tells Coffee Talk. “There's a lot of product out there. We have to sell our virtues against everyone else. We think we can do that.”
One way there, he believes, is to charge residents less rent and eliminate entry fees that come standard in some competing facilities. “We are buying land right,” Watchowski says. “We are positioning ourselves to be affordable.”
Watchowski says the model is to also outdo others in amenities and perks. At Coconut Point, for example, every independent living resident receives his or her own iPad. Assisted living residents can check out iPads to access specialized software programs with daily schedules, menus, appointments and events. The facility also includes country club-style dining, a casual bistro, a movie theater and more.
Watchowski points out another trend in the senior living industry that could be an advantage for American House: Financing is harder, which creates a barrier to entry for others, he says, that don't have the heft of a company like Redico behind it. “If the industry won't police itself then the capital markets will,” Watchowski says, “which is refreshing.”