College students aren't the only age group spurring a construction boom in Eugene.
Developers of senior housing projects and assisted living facilities are eyeing Lane County's changing demographics and adding hundreds of rental units for residents aged 55 and older.
A recently completed independent and assisted living community off Goodpasture Island Road built at a cost of $32.5 million, and a $21 million Coburg Road facility due to open in November, will add a total of nearly 270 studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments to the city's senior housing supply this year.
Others are likely to follow, including a planned expansion at the Cascade Manor retirement community on West 30th Avenue, which will construct 30 new housing units starting this fall in addition to the 104 units already there.
"We've kind of been thinking about this since our last expansion in 2006," Cascade Manor Executive Director Brian Young said. The 30 additional units should be open next fall, he said, adding that it's too early to discuss monthly rents.
Like Young's project, the Goodpasture Island Road plan was drawn up years ago, then put on hold during the recession.
Portland-based BPM Real Estate Group has built several small apartment projects in the Eugene area. In 2007, the company started to plan a 150-unit independent senior living community on Waterford Way, called Waterford Grand, adjacent to land the company planned to build its upscale 466-unit Riverwalk Apartments project on.
The real estate collapse in 2008 put both projects on hold. But the company felt secure enough about the recovery last year to dust off the blueprints for both the Riverwalk and Waterford Grand projects.
"So many seniors depend on home equity or investment portfolios when they move into a (retirement) community," Dennis Parfitt, president of BPM Senior Living, said. "Now a lot of the market has come back, and seniors are making the decision, especially those looking for independent housing. We know there's a lot of focus on student housing, but there's a strong need in Eugene for senior housing."
The $32.5-million Waterford Grand opened its doors Sept. 1. Of the 150 units, 23 are for seniors who live independently, 63 are assisted living facilities and 64 are memory care facilities for residents with Alzheimer's, dementia and other cognitive issues.
The units range from $2,650 per month for an independent living studio to $5,550 for a private memory care suite.
Parfitt said the company has given about 80 tours in the three weeks it has been open. Twenty of the 150 units are reserved, he said, and the company has received hundreds of inquiries.
On Coburg Road, at the southern edge of Crescent Park, work is expected to wrap up next month on the three-story, 116,000-square-foot Crescent Park Senior Living complex.
Denver-based Spectrum Retirement Communities is developing the $21 million, 119-unit facility with studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Rents range from $1,900 a month for a studio to $3,900 for two-bedroom units with full kitchens.
Spectrum has developed 30 retirement communities in 10 states. In each case, the company has relied on an in-house demographer who analyzes markets to decide where population changes and senior housing supply issues make a new facility a good bet, Spectrum Vice President of Marketing Kathleen MacDonald said.
"We don't just draw up a map and throw a dart," she said.
The company's analysis quickly showed Lane County as a prime candidate for more senior housing - a conclusion backed up by data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2010, the most recent year for which precise Census data is available, 102,855 of Lane County residents were 55 and older.
That's up from 72,070 people aged 55 and older in 2000, making for a 42.7 percent increase in the 55-and-older population in 10 years.
The county as a whole grew just 8.9 percent over that time. Whereas 22 percent of the county's population was 55 or older in 2000, that group made up 29 percent of the population in 2010, and could be even higher today.
"During the next three years, the demographic trends in Lane County's population are expected to increase in terms of people aged 45 to 64, which is our sweet spot" MacDonald said. "It's also going to increase among those 75 and over, and is supposed to increase as well for the population between 65 to 74. All different segments of our demographic group are expected to increase in the county."
She said 33 of the 119 units have already been reserved.
Cheli Baguio has seen the senior housing shortage up close for years. The owner of Loving Care senior referral service, which helps seniors find housing in the area, Baguio has gotten used to scouring more than 180 senior care facilities in the area, and finding just one or two openings.
"People usually have to go on a waiting list," she said. Adding senior housing across income levels is a major need, she said, but especially for units with monthly rents of $3,000 and less. The Waterford Grand and Crescent Park projects, with their 216 still-vacant units, "is wonderful news."
"There's a strong need in Eugene for senior housing."
- Dennis Parfitt, president of BPM Senior Living