By Carlo Calma
The title of “tallest building” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will soon belong to a new luxury senior living high-rise, if all goes according to plan.
Developed by Fort Lauderdale-based Ocean Land Investments, the Riverwalk Residences of Las Olas is slated be a 42-story tall senior living community featuring 401 units consisting of 192 independent living, 152 assisted living and 57 memory care residences.
Ocean Land has partnered with Miami-based firm Borges Architects + Associates and Fort Lauderdale-based landscape architecture firm Cadence on the project, which has a price tag of roughly $200 million, according to a local report.
The high-rise design to the Riverwalk Residences is in keeping with what some other senior living developers and investors—like Maplewood Senior Living and Welltower Inc. (NYSE: HCN)—are doing, as the urban opportunity for senior housing options grows in densely populated cities.
From Canada to Florida
Though the Riverwalk Residences is the first senior living project for Ocean Land in the United States, the company’s founder and President Jean Francois Roy is no stranger to the senior housing game. Roy—a native of Quebec, Canada—has developed and acquired seven other senior living communities as part of Ocean Land’s portfolio throughout the province, with a heavy concentration in Montreal.
Interest in developing a senior living community in the U.S. stems from Roy’s personal move into the Fort Lauderdale area in the mid-1990s. Original plans of creating a senior living community started in 1995, when Roy purchased a hotel in neighboring Pompano Beach with plans of converting it into senior living. The company, however, could not obtain the proper zoning rights, Roy explained.
Since then, Ocean Land has developed and invested in more than a dozen high-end condominium projects in Fort Lauderdale, with many in the affluent Las Olas Isles neighborhood.
“The condominiums we’re building right now average 3,000 square feet. They’re all on the water, they all come with boat slips [and] they’re all walking distance from the beach and downtown,” Roy told Senior Housing News.
These luxury amenities are features Roy will be incorporating into the Riverwalk Residences. After all, its future home, 333 North New River Drive, is situated along the Tarpon River in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
“What we’re designing is not a traditional retirement home … it’s more contemporary,” Roy said. “We don’t want to do retirement homes, we want to [create a] resort for the [older] adult community.”
Promoting a stress-free, active lifestyle for senior residents is the goal of the Riverwalk Residences, especially considering its proximity to the beaches and downtown area, Roy added.
The building will be designed to have two separate lobbies—one devoted to the independent living residences, the other for assisted living and memory care. Further, the design of the building will be just as dynamic as the clientele it hopes to attract, according to Roy.
“We’ll be able to convert [the building] story by story [from] independent living to assisted living, so the building will be designed to be able to age with the population,” he said.
And in light of the area’s susceptibility to hurricanes and floods, the building’s lobbies are designed to be nine feet above high tide, and there is an allowance for two back up generators in the event of a power failure.
The company plans to begin construction by summer 2018, with an overall timeline of three years, according to Roy.
Ocean Land is already underway interviewing management companies to operate the senior living community upon completion.