Welltower, Hines break ground on Manhattan assisted living high-rise

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Sunrise at East 56th, shown in this artist's rendering, will be Midtown Manhattan's first purpose-built assisted living and memory care community, according to Welltower and Hines.
Sunrise at East 56th, shown in this artist's rendering, will be Midtown Manhattan's first purpose-built assisted living and memory care community, according to Welltower and Hines.

Real estate investment trust Welltower and international real estate firm Hines officially broke ground Monday for a 16-story, 130,000-square-foot tower that will house Midtown Manhattan's first purpose-built assisted living and memory care community.

The property, formally named Sunrise at East 56th and also known as “the Welltower,” will house complementary retail at the base and feature 151 residential units. The effort marks Hines' entry into the senior housing sector.

Pre-leasing is expected to begin next year, with the development completed by 2020, at which time it will be managed by Sunrise Senior Living. The architect on the project is SLCE, with interiors by Champalimaud.

The property will feature large windows, several terraces and outdoor gardens, and many common areas to meet the needs and interests of residents, including dining rooms, a salon, exercise facilities, medical examination rooms, an art studio and a theater, according to the companies.

“We are working with Welltower and Sunrise to bring evidence-based wellness programs to this development, to deliver services that will enhance our residents' lives and health in many ways,” Sarah Hawkins, managing director of Hines, said in a statement. Wellness features, according to the companies, will include air purification systems, circadian lighting and programming including exercise and meditation. The community will be located near several healthcare providers.

A 2017 study commissioned by Welltower found that 80% of baby boomers who live in large cities want to keep living there after they turn 80 — either in their current homes or someplace nearby.

“Welltower is committed to bringing the highest quality seniors housing to core urban locations, where there are currently few options for the aging population,” Mercedes Kerr, the REIT's executive vice president of business and relationship management, said in a statement.

The companies acquired the property in 2016 and subsequently demolished existing commercial structures on the site to make room for the new building.

In January, Welltower and Hines announced that they had closed with a “confidential major institutional investor” on a limited partnership interest for the development of Sunrise at East 56th. “This transaction represents the first joint venture of this type in the development of an urban senior living building with a major institutional investor, a global real estate firm and a healthcare REIT,” they said at the time.

At the groundbreaking, from left: Welltower CEO Tom DeRosa; Hines Managing Director Sarah Hawkins; Welltower EVP Mercedes Kerr; Hines Senior Managing Director Tommy Craig; and Sunrise Senior Living CEO Chris Winkle.

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