Michael Gordon, VP of planning and development for a Boston real estate firm, has been counting down the days until a new high-end apartment and condo complex opens. The 92-unit projects boasts the kinds of amenities common in the current spree of high-end rentals going up in American cities: walk-in closets, full kitchens, more spacious layouts, numerous communal areas, concierge services, chauffeured car service, even an on-site movie theatre and two restaurants.
The key difference between Waterstone at the Circle and other expensive high-rises is the demographic of its clientele. The average move-in age of future Waterstone residents is 82.
"We've found that most seniors want to remain in the city," Gordon says. "You're seeing a trend where empty-nesters are downsizing and lots of new product are being built for them. They'll want additional services when they're 80."
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Opening in Boston's Brighton neighborhood in January, Waterstone, which is being billed as an urban independent living community, represents a watershed in American demographics, senior life, and real estate development. Gordon's firm Epoch Senior Living has made a big bet—he wouldn't specify how much the building costs, but with rent starting at $7,000 a month, it's safe to assume it's quite a bit—that baby boomers' golden years will be a golden opportunity (it already opened a similar project in Wellesley). As Americans live longer with more healthy, active lifestyles, senior housing is being rethought, redesigned, and, in this case, rebranded.
"They want walkability," Gordon says of similar clients in other Epoch properties. "Go to their units at 3 in the afternoon and they're empty. People are out and about. This is all about high-end, independent living."
Waterstone goes online before the coming wave of older Americans crests. Gordon says many residents, at opening, will actually be the parents of younger baby boomers. Since the average baby boomer doesn't turn 80 until 2026, the real growth in this market won't occur for another decade.