Institutions bring retirement living to campus

Purchase College is building a 385-unit retirement community on its 500-acre campus in upstate New York. Currently in the development phase, the project should welcome residents by late 2021.

Unlike similar communities built near campuses to lure alumni, Broadview will be open to any lifelong learner who is interested in an intergenerational experience, says Elizabeth Robertson, director for Broadview Senior Living at Purchase College.

“We see this as a place where there can be this interaction between our senior residents and our college students, and both, in a formal and an informal way, learn from one another, whether it’s in the classroom or through other opportunities,” says Robertson.

In addition, the community will provide a fixed revenue stream for the college, part of the State University of New York system. Through a 75-year ground lease arrangement with the state, Purchase will receive at least $2 million per year.

SIDEBAR: Retirement community revenue for Purchase College

Before the institution can break ground, 70 percent of the units must be sold.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest in our community because people want to retire but continue to learn,” says Robertson.

Model home

Purchase’s Broadview community is modeled on Lasell Village, set on the scenic campus of Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, seven miles outside of Boston. Built in 2000, it was the first retirement community located on a campus, and is currently home to 225 independent residents, plus nearly another 60 in short-term and assisted care.

Being on college grounds is a key consideration for potential buyers, says Anne Doyle, president of Lasell Village.

“Our residents can walk to the library, walk to their classes, walk to the preschool for their volunteer activities or walk to the art gallery for a ceramics class,” says Doyle. “That makes all the difference in creating those informal interactions that are the basis for meaningful relationships.”

Residents are required to participate in 450 hours of educational experiences per year.

In 2016, the retirement community generated nearly $2 million in rent and fees paid to the institution for IT and other services.

The arrangement also creates endless opportunities for collaboration, says Doyle.

For example, recently one resident with declining vision worked with a faculty member and a traditional student to design a deck of high-visibility playing cards to use in duplicate bridge. The institution also has a substantial rehab medicine program that works with village residents.

Presidential oversight of both college and village, and a commitment to having an age-friendly campus, has been critical to Lasell Village’s success. The facility’s administrators are eager to expand but the village is “landlocked” by the surrounding college.

“Having a multigenerational campus has only been a positive,” says Doyle.

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