Senior housing sparks construction, new jobs

Dayton area poised to be national hot spot

Housing for senior citizens in the Miami Valley has become a catalyst for more than $83 million dollars in completed or expected construction and almost 200 new jobs in the facilities.

More than 400 additional units in new or expanded senior communities ranging from high-end assisted-living centers to rent-subsidized apartments have been approved and proposed this year in Centerville, Tipp City, Lebanon, Huber Heights, Lebanon, Washington Twp., Oakwood and Kettering.

Chris McGraw, a research analyst for the Maryland-based National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing and Care Industry, said the Dayton area will be a national hot spot if most of those projects get started as planned in the next several months.

“Dayton isn’t on our radar at this point because we only track independent- and assisted-living units that are under construction.,” he said. Subsidized apartments are not included.

“If 200 or more units get started there, that would represent at least a 4 percent increase over the 4,953 units Dayton already has, by our count,” he said.

Nationally, current construction of senior housing in the categories tracked by McGraw’s center compared to what’s already available is at just 2.1 percent, down from a high of 4.7 percent in late 2007 and early ‘08.

Toledo has 290 senior housing units under construction. Chicago and Minneapolis lead the way with more than 1,100 each.

Population trends indicate a growing need.

The number of those age 65 and older in the United States is expected to at least double from the 40.2 million counted in the 2010 census to 88.5 million by 2050. Those 85 and older will triple to 19 million.

According to the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University, Ohio residents 65 and older increased by 7.6 percent between 2000 and 2010, but the jump was a dramatic 54.4 percent in Warren County (from a total of 14,858 to 22,936), 25.8 percent in Greene County, 20.1 percent in Miami County and just 5.7 percent in Montgomery County (from 76,697 to 81,0141).

McGraw said the impact of baby boomers on senior housing will really be felt in the early 2020s.

Greg Nelson, a developer and longtime senior center manager who will convert an office building on Far Hills Avenue from a sports medicine center to an upscale assisted-living center called Carlyle House, said the Dayton area may eventually reach “the saturation point” in care and living facilities.

But Lloyd Chapman, chief executive for Senior Living Solutions in Mentor, Ohio, and a 10-year board member for the Ohio Assisted Living Association, said, “There will be no downturn in people over 85 until 2050. The average age of people moving into assisted-living centers is now 87. They look at life differently than 87-year-olds did even in 1990. Their expendable income has doubled and they want choices.”

McGraw said developers have shifted “away from independent-living units to assisted-living, which tends not to be as sensitive to maket fluctuations. There’s been somewhat more investment in free-standing memory-care for Alzheimer’s patients.”

Tim Bete, executive vice president for the non-profit St. Mary Development Corp., which builds and manages affordable housing in the Dayton area, also sees the makings of “a boom.”

While several of the proposed area projects are designed for those who have saved for comfortable retirements, “the question for many other elderly who will need housing is what they can afford. These are average people who have raised kids, worked jobs and owned homes, yet haven’t been able to save a lot of money. Assisted-living facilities are not an option for them,” Bete said.

Incorporating seniors has provided momentum to long-planned developments including Pointe Oakwood, where several single-family homes are nearing completion and luxury condominiums are planned, and Acorn Walk in Kettering, which will include single homes and doubles sold at market rates.

Planned before the economic downturn arrived in 2008, Acorn Walk finally has the green light. Al Fullenkamp, Kettering’s assistant city manager, said the project “could have been built without the senior apartments, but it could not have started now without them. We would have had to wait another year or two for the housing market to strengthen.”

The 24 unit building there will be the fourth subsidized-rent apartment building the Columbus-based Franklin Foundation has built in Kettering. It also has buildings for seniors in Germantown and Riverside.

Franklin president Lynn Dalton, a Kettering resident, said the buildings all have waiting lists. “There’s a huge need. Most of the residents in our Kettering buildings are long-time Kettering residents who want to stay in the community. We have also started getting some interest from Oakwood.”

A marketing study in advance of the Sugar Camp care center in Pointe Oakwood found there was room for more than 125 new care center units in the Oakwood vicinity. Average occupancy rate was 94 percent at 12 other Dayton area assisted-living facilities and 97 percent at nearby Brookdale, located at Far Hills and Park Road.

Tom Robillard, Kettering’s planning and development director, said residents who made the city “a boom town” in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s “no longer want as big of a house or a yard to take care of. They want to drop down to senior housing or an assisted-care facility in the city.”

In 2004, a City of Oakwood study identified a scarcity of “new housing choices for older residents who may desire to move out of their single-family homes, but stay in Oakwood.”

There’s room for expansion in Centerville. “We’ve been fortunate to be the home of both St. Leonand Center and Bethany Village, outstanding facilities that offer a wide continuum of care to our senior residents,” city manager Greg Horn said.

“As residential development has moved south over the past decade, we have seen some recent senior housing interest in the southern areas of Centerville and Washington Twp. Many of our neighborhoods such as Yankee Trace are greying and will be attractive markets for an array of senior services that are conveniently located and of high quality,” he said.

Another long-established senior community is expanding options.

Otterbein Senior Living in Lebanon, which has almost 800 residents on a campus that was established in 1912, is collaborating with the Countryside YMCA on a five-story facility off Ohio 741 that includes 24 independent senior apartments on the top three floors, a swimming pool, fitness center, indoor walking track and more.

“We’re cutting edge,” said Otterbein vice president Jason Miller.

More than half of the units have been sold. The building will open in November.

Senior Housing Taking Off






Pointe Oakwood/Sugar Camp

$12 million




Carlyle House

$3 million



Under way

Acorn Walk

$2.6 million




St. Leonard Center expansion

$14 million



Completed Jan. 2012

Bethany Village (new cottages)

$2 million



Under way

Life Enrichment Center, Lebanon

$11 million



Under way

Fieldstone Place, Tipp City

$14 million



Phase one approved

Lyons Place II, VA Center, Dayton

$8.3 million



Phase one approved

Huber Heights & Alcore Senior

$17 million




*The Trace, Centerville assisted-living, independent-living and/or senior condos Proposed

*Washington Twp. nursing and/or assisted-care facilities in a 63-acred mixed development by RG Properties Proposed

*Projects are proposed and plans are being developed and are not finalized

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