Success of Sinai Residences in Boca signals strong demand for luxury senior living

Boca has 10k residents over age 75, or 11.5% of the population, above 6.2% nationwide

Jun.June 28, 2016 08:45 AM

Sinai Residences in Boca Raton

The $265 million Sinai Residences, an upscale senior living facility in Boca Raton, celebrated its grand opening with a bang last month, having sold out before construction. And the project’s success points to the strong demand for high-end senior housing in Boca, experts say.

The 366-unit development is located on the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County campus at 21036 95th Avenue. It includes 234 independent living apartments, 48 assisted-living apartments, 60 skilled nursing suites and 24 private memory care suites. Residents are on the hook for upfront payments ranging from $400,000 for a one-bedroom apartment to $1.3 million for a 2,800-square-foot suite.

Sinai Residences offers a full array of dining, cultural, entertainment and recreational opportunities. “We think we have one of the most luxurious CCRCs (continuing care retirement communities) in the U.S.,” Mel Lowell, chief operating officer of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, told The Real Deal. “It’s like being in The Breakers.”

Boca has about 10,100 residents over the age of 75, which represents 11.5 percent of its total population, far exceeding the national ratio of 6.2 percent, according to CBRE. “That’s a significant amount of older folks who are potential residents for senior housing,” senior housing specialist Matthew Whitlock, executive vice president for CBRE in Gloucester, Massachusetts, told TRD. “Demand for senior housing in the great Boca market is extremely strong.”

And it’s not just people who already live in Boca Raton that are drawn to senior facilities there. “Several things make Boca an attractive retirement destination,” Whitlock said. “It has great cultural diversity and a proximity to shopping, beaches and healthcare.”

Much of the demand will be for luxury projects, real estate pros say. The average income in Boca for those aged 45 to 64, who are the ones that will be moving into these projects in the years ahead, is $82,000 a year, according to CBRE.

Stuart Wexelman, a realtor with Waterfront Properties and Club Communities, already has seen evidence of the demand. When he recently showed homes in Boca Lago Country Club and other luxury communities in Boca, “a lot of the sellers were going to Sinai,” he told TRD. “The problem is that these communities are getting older and the facilities and infrastructure are getting older.” Meanwhile, healthcare needs of residents are increasing as they get older.

So does this mean a boom in upscale senior housing development is coming to Boca Raton? Not so fast, Whitlock said. “Boca has a very controlled environment for real estate development,” he said. “There are strict ordinances for development of new projects, signage and architecture.”

Building approvals can take more than two years. “There are developmental barriers to entry in Boca, which curb the ability for competitive upscale senior living projects to be developed,” Whitlock said.

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