Tom Cana

Metropolitan seniors are being drawn to new, luxury senior living communities that rival high-end hotels, appealing to older adults who have spent their lives as city dwellers and have no desire to leave.

Many developers are betting that over the coming decades, more seniors will look to stay in their city communities, choosing to live where there are lots of dining, entertainment and shopping choices nearby, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Fewer than 20 ultra high-end senior living communities exist in downtown urban areas across the country now,” National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace said previously, adding that the number conceivably could triple, or more, over the next several years.

Sunrise at East 56 on the upper east side of New York City opened its doors late last year to fill precisely that niche, General Manager Tom Cana told the McKnight’s Business Daily. The community is a joint venture between real estate investment trust Welltower and international real estate firm Hines. The 16-story high-rise has 151 units for assisted living and memory care residents, and residents “enjoy being in the neighborhood where they grew up,” Cana said. 

The majority of the community’s residents have lived in New York City their entire lives, he said. The second resident moved in from directly across the street, and the third resident moved in from down the street, according to Cana.

“Most have direct ties and have been here their whole lives,” he said.

Bingo and arts and crafts activities are taking a back seat to cultural activities at the Sunrise building and other higher-end senior living communities in and around New York City. The value added to being in the midtown Manhattan neighborhood, Cana said, is that Central Park, museums, cultural and educational institutions and arts programs are within a three-block radius. The operator also has relationships with institutions that bring programming on site to the residents. The Juilliard School, for example, provides monthly on-site musical programs.

“We have everything at our fingertips,” Cana said.

Amenities include several communal areas, a full-service beauty salon, a theater, outdoor terraces on two floors so residents “can continue to enjoy that city living while viewing the Manhattan skyline,” Cana said. 

Residents are offered three meals a day from chefs trained by the Ritz-Carlton, who also have experience working in senior living, the general manager said. 

In addition to standard assisted living protocols for care, Sunrise at East 56 has partnered with Northwell Signature Health to bring concierge medical care directly to the residents if they opt for that amenity.

Eighty percent 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, according to the results of the 2017 Aging in Cities survey commissioned by Welltower. Survey participants lived in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington, DC.